top of page

Concert Series: Militarie Gun

Opening Acts: Roman Candle, Spiritual Cramp, Pool Kids

Writing by DeVan Whitaker & Trent "Pax" Lowder

Film Photography by Trent "Pax" Lowder

The Life Under The Gun Tour hit its penultimate stop in the Northeast end of Portland, OR, nearly 24 hours away from closing on a fairly grueling 20-city tour. No matter the long road that led to that evening, every artist sharing the stage did so with resilient fervor, and a mastery over their set.

Supporting acts on the bill made for a motley and eclectic bunch, but came together with the headliner like a fearsome four of earth, wind, water, and fire as they each delivered unique and pivotal material to the experience. A striking range of genres were represented: hardcore and post-hardcore, garage rock, emo, math rock, alternative and more, all bringing an assortment of fans together for a diverse offering. Waves upon waves of interchanging front-row crowds shifted and shuffled throughout the night, and every so often, the atmosphere would hit a reset at front-and-center stage.

Ultimately, no matter the flavor of rowdy music on display, they all had the cozy confines of Polaris Hall rocking, one way or another. If it wasn’t the concert-goers making the ballroom floor shake, it was the performers making the walls quake with a hell of a lot of passion and noise.

Roman Candle

Off rip, the show came out swinging with Roman Candle, and the aptly-monikered, fiery, post-hardcore act brought the sweltering Las Vegas air with them to the stage. The instantaneous barrage of eerie sample-clips, hulking breakdowns, and captivating grooves set the table for a feast of screamo-inspired hardcore. The band had an unmistakably punchy, “DIY” quality about themselves that fit as well on an intimate stage as it would in a level-ground basement, or in the depths of an emptied pool.

Lead singer Piper Ferrari’s vocals were an endearing combination of breathy, melodic wailing and lethal screams that never missed a beat. Furthermore, her presence and spark on stage made the performance all the more impressive. Behind her, the entire band gave off an energy and pointedness that perked the ears of the front-row audience, and summoned back-wall dwellers up to fill any gaps: precisely the reaction a lead opener can judge a triumphant set on. Roman Candle’s brand of sharp and brackish hardcore successfully set an enthralling tone for the rest of the night.

Spiritual Cramp

Following up a heavy in Roman Candle, was Spiritual Cramp, a spunky six-piece unit from San Francisco riding the recent success of their self-titled debut album. What they played often felt like rhythmic blends of various punk subtypes: a little hardcore, post-punk, and garage rock, with slices of indie, alternative, and the like. The contrast of energy was a shift toward more vivacious vocal performances with brighter, more jagged guitar play. Spiritual Cramp is fronted by Michael Bingham on lead vocals, who stomped, boogied, and belted the whole way through. An energizing air of charisma swiftly began taking up all the space in the room, as the cavalcade of guitars, keys, tambourine, and drums went colliding in as many directions. Every catchy riff, and every chanted chorus hit the floor like a jolt of electricity that powered the audiences by the soles of their shoes.

Spiritual Cramp, released late in 2023, is an album rife with melodic and lyrical hooks that cut right through the thick concert air to grab the listener. “Talkin’ On The Internet” and “Slick Rick” were standout tracks, but everything they played had a danceability that felt unique to the bill, and every crazed song they played had a sense of style to its madness.

Pool Kids

In the context of the lineup, Pool Kids was a perfectly-timed palate cleanser like a crisp breeze among beating rays (fitting they hail from Florida). Along with occasionally fuzzy distortion, Pool Kids’ essence of emo derives more from the technical and intricately dazzling aspects of math rock. Lead singer Christine Goodwyne has a voice that can shake tree limbs free of their leaves, and when she belted certain notes it felt like the whole room froze to bask in the frequency.

The instrument play was an all-around highlight from every member of the band as the guitarists exchanged precision fretting and flashy poses, even shredding back-to-back for a moment before the lead singer made her way into the crowd. As a unit, they were sharp, and heavy, but having fun with every step and shout.

It would be an injustice not to specifically highlight drummer Caden Clinton, whose ability to dissect the percussion with equal parts complexity and power went a long way in keeping the performance unfettered. With the other performances hitting listeners with blasts of distorted drive, rageful power, and runaway vivacity, Pool Kids comparatively had a breathiness and sparkle that didn’t sacrifice vibrancy, and transitioned the moshing into dancing rather seamlessly.

Militarie Gun

After a heap of talent had hit the stage, Militarie Gun was met with an instantly warm welcome from the crowd and proved to be worthy headliners on this stacked bill of coast-to-coast talent. With their hearts sewn to the sleeve, the Los Angeles-based quintet demonstrated a clear hold on the audience. Their material largely consisted of songs from their debut album, Life Under The Gun, which is built up of a dozen jams all clocking in at a blazing three minutes or less. Their EP series, All Roads Lead To The Gun, was also represented in fits and starts, most notably with “Ain’t No Flowers,” the first EP’s opener, which really stirred the cauldron on the dance floor.

The band’s lyrical themes of frustration, inadequacy, and mental anguish play into the emotion with which they perform, and yet they still deliver a fun-loving, confident, and very much jovial take on these songs that make for a cathartic environment more than a macabre one.

Songs like “Very High,” “My Friends Are Having A Hard Time,” and “Big Disappointment” all struck this balancing act well, and felt like secondary peak moments where the crowd is shouting so many of these heartfelt lyrics back to the stage. These emotions routinely came to a head with effective songwriting in many of the hooks to their songs that play out even better live than in-studio. For this reason, the flow of their setlist felt natural and memorable, with the choruses doing the heavy lifting of consistently moving the crowd. This is a band that is often on the road and with that has come a comfortability with performing this material and having a pulse on the crowd.

Given Militarie Gun’s blend of alternative and hardcore sounds, and thanks to the variety of groups on the bill, everything from the crowd in attendance, to the form of dance elicited song to song, had a nuance of variety that mattered and made a melting pot of the dance floor.

Every band had their own thing: Pool Kids, most technical; Roman Candle, biggest beatdowns; Spiritual Cramp, most danceable; and Militarie Gun’s most anthemic and bittersweet sound capped the night on a perfect note.

Dozens of people in the crowd looked to be having the time of their week, month, or year that night, and the real camaraderie between bands and band members was effortlessly felt. The way these groups commended each other on stage, and hung around to watch and support one another was a small glimpse in on how they were all in it together, and the crowd fed that energy back tenfold.


bottom of page