Lagwagon @ Louis’, Saskatoon, Canada

Words: Miljan Milekić

It’s been a while since I’ve last seen Lagwagon, at the legendary Punk Rock Holiday in 2016. And while the heavy, sweaty air of Saskatoon’s club Louis’ was a far cry from the fresh mountain breeze in the forests of the Slovenian Alps, everything else felt so very familiar. After all, this was a show that Saskatoon had been waiting for a long time. Almost too long, as it was originally supposed to happen in the Spring of 2022. The second try was more recent – in June, before Joey Cape had a medical emergency. So, as the tour itself was symbolically named – the third time was a charm this time.

For decades now, Lagwagon have been a staple in the punk rock scene. Veterans, legends, whatever words I use, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration, and it was obvious from the very start of their set. Maybe openers ‘Island of Shame’ and ‘Dis’Chords’ haven’t immediately caused chaos in front of the stage, but ‘Violins,’ fired up right after them, certainly did. The legendary track, more on the melodic side of Lagwagon’s catalogue was the first to ignite collective sing-along. From there, it was smooth sailing for the band.

At this point, songs like ‘Sleep,’ ‘Sick,’ ‘Know it All,’ or ‘Making Friends,’ are a muscle memory for the band and fans alike, and with them in the set, there was no room for any mistakes. And that is the beauty of bands like Lagwagon. Never big enough to actually break into mainstream, but considered cult heroes of the underground scene, they never had “hits” or singles, they have a massive list of fan-favorites to pick from, with enough freedom to mix and match. Maybe the perfect example of this came just before ‘Beer Goggles,’ when Joey explained that they “stopped playing it because they didn’t like playing it, but they played it on the last tour, loved it, and now they are playing it again.”

That song was, however, followed by ‘Obsolete Absolute,’ the only song played from both ‘Hang’ or ‘Railer,’ which for me at least, was the only letdown of the night. Not only that the song sounded massive and turned into one of the highlights of the set, but hopefully, the reaction could encourage the band to throw more new-ish tracks in their sets. Although, jokingly, Joey asked the crowd to thank them for not playing more new songs, except for that one they love playing, both albums are simply way too good to be ignored.

As their set was nearing the end, they unleashed another cult track – ‘Razor Burn,’ before getting off the stage for a short break. The encore, short but sweet, kicked off with ‘Owen Meany,’ before the band slid into ‘Angry Days,’ and finally, finished things off with ‘May 16,’ sung by every pair of lungs in the room. The song is not only the band’s biggest track to date, but – having a whole separate life as part of the legendary ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2’ soundtrack, for years it was an entry point to the band’s music for thousands of fans around the Globe, myself included. Being so close to the hearts of so many fans, it’s no wonder it still resonates so strongly with them, all these years later.

Lagwagon, however, weren’t the only one to hit the stage on the night, with Saskatoon’s own Me The Guts kicking off the party, before handing it off to another band from California – Cigar. Combining old and new, the band delivered a tight, energetic set, making a perfect intro for what was to come. By throwing in songs like ‘The Loss,’ ‘Two Kevins,’ ‘Legacy Of The 7 Piles,’ and ‘No More Waiting,’ or a medley of ‘Wright And Rong/Laundry Basket,’ they made it fun and fresh. The flavour of skate punk they play was never my personal favorite, as I found it a bit too fast and technical, while I prefer a bit more melody. Live, however, it all fits perfectly, bringing it all together. After all, not everyone can have Chris fuckin’ Cole in their video. They surely made the night a bit more fun, and not… (dad joke incoming)… just another Friday.

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