Words & Photos by Amber James
Three pm. Little did I know that the start to the most ridiculous Day in the Life I’d ever done was about to begin. Despite that fact, it still would be a normal day hanging out with REPS. Having been a band for a few years now, I’ve worked extensively with them since their inception but had yet to actually spend a day actually hanging out with them. As a result, I made sure I got an extra large coffee from Dunkin Donuts just to be safe, to make sure I had maximum energy.
Making my way inside the venue, I waited for them to show up, which happened a few minutes later because they’re slowpokes. The fest they were playing, United Artistry Live, consisted of eleven bands for the day, who magically all had merch. Which meant this took a bit of shuffling around to be able to fit in all the bands plus the vendors for that day. Shuffling around some of the bleacher benches, a two bench high merch table of sorts was created. As this was obviously super hard work, we paused for a bit to start the drinking portion of our evening off the right way. Also, because loading in merch is hard work and preparation was required. Aka beer preparation, otherwise known as the best type of preparation.
Vocalist Colton Bockes and guitarist Jordan Foehner pulled the short straw and were chosen to load in merch even though it was cold and drizzly. (Which brings us back to why beer was needed.) Taking a quick vape break, Bockes and Foehner grabbed the merch boxes and headed back into the venue to set up the merch display. Making sure everything was separated by size, the handful of t-shirt designs were laid out on the makeshift table along with CDs and the famous roll of REPS stickers. Because if you live in Rochester and frequent downtown bars and eateries, you’ve definitely seen these stickers.
Having made sure that everything was taken care for, it was time for the most important part of the day: food. There was still a few more hours before it was time for the band to take the stage so they headed around the corner to local bar, Murphy’s Law, to grab some food and a pint or two of beer. Drummer, Steve Koch, stuck to Rochester local and grabbed a Genny Light to go with his loaded cheesy tots since the menu lacked lots of vegetarian options. Foehner and bassist Mike Till grabbed two more typical pints while Bockes went the adventurous route and got a raspberry flavored beer. Which led to all of us exclaiming in amazement that his beer was pink and for Foehner to try the beer and make the most disgusted face ever. Taking a seat in a booth, we all waited for our food to arrive because, if you’re going to be drinking, you have to have some food as well. While we waited for our meals, Bockes made the mistake of only getting some tomato basil soup, which led us all thinking we should take bets if he would “poop soup” on stage. Because Bockes was the type of person who made the mistake of purposely getting the steak at Denny’s. Pro tip: never get the steak at Denny’s. Once his soup came, Koch put his oyster crackers to good use and tested out the soup for him. You’ve never eaten an oyster cracker until you’ve speared it on a fork and tested food with it. Both Till and I got the most delicious grilled cheese sandwiches you’ve ever had in your life while Foehner got some sort of burger grilled egg concoction. In a tender moment, however, Foehner and Till shared a few bites of Till’s grilled cheese sandwich re-enacting the famous Lady and the Tramp spaghetti scene.
Finishing up our meals and beers, we headed back to the venue to start loading in the gear for the night’s set. With the air getting colder as the night went on and the sun starting to set, clouds of warm breath as well as vape clouds hung in the air as they started to unload all the gear. Propping open the back door of the venue, the gear started being loaded into the back room of the venue that was divided to try and fit as much gear in as possible. Time was spent split between loading in gear and posing for hard style-esque photos for me. Koch started mocking up his drum kit for the night and Till had to change out the strings on his bass while the rest of us headed back to the merch table. By this point, a few friends had showed up so Bockes and I headed out to a different bar to play some pool and grab some more drinks. We headed back around the corner again, this time to Mason’s on Alexander, formerly known as Dubland Underground to us hardcore kids.
Grabbing some beers, we headed downstairs to the basement of the bar and had one of the most surreal experiences ever. Having spent so many years going to shows there, we were used to the basement being dimly lit and musty smelling with a low stage and basic bar. Now the whole basement was relatively well and warmly lit with a refinished bar; the stage was gone and replaced with two dart boards and a raised area at the back with a pool table and a table set up for beer pong. Completely the opposite of what we were used to, it felt weird setting up to play pool there as we all reminisced about memories and shows we’d seen there. Playing a quick game of pool, we realized we were out of beer (and whiskey) so we headed back upstairs before contemplating another game. Sitting at the bar, as the boys knocked back a couple shots of whiskey and I grabbed another beer, a few more friends started rolling in as well as Foehner. The idea of playing another game of pool was abandoned as everyone started joking around and yelling ‘SHUN’ at each other. I’d try explaining the game but I’m not sure I even understand it.
Show time had arrived and REPS loaded their gear onstage to prepare to unexpectedly shake up the place with their take on politically southern groovy hardcore comparable to ETID and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster. Starting off with their single, ‘Rust’, the intensity started right out of the gate. Frontman, Bockes, commands the mic like a seasoned vocalist with Foehner, and Mike Till, providing that heavy southern groove to back him up. Koch proved that Animal from the Muppets is probably his spirit animal as he absolutely destroys the drums, seeming to never be still, even in-between songs. Their set was combined with mainly tracks from their full length released last spring, Poisoned Youth, and then two fan favorites from their own your Mind EP, ‘Zealots’ and the self titled track. Moving on to one of my favorite tracks of theirs, ‘Courage Has No Color’, the pit reached new intensity as this track is one of their most powerful. Bockes yells “we need to save the future for our sons and daughters before they follow suit like sheep to a slaughter. We can’t erase what’s been said and done but if we stand together we can finally rise above and watch those racist fucking cowards burn” as a handful of people crowded the barricade, Bockes crouching at the edge of the stage extending the mic to those who wanted to join in and yell along. REPS closed out their set with their track, ‘Dead in the Water’, which they’re preparing to release a music video for. Despite cramming eight songs into just under a half hour, the intensity never waned with either the band or the crowd. With none of the bands matching their level of energy for that night, you could see and hear the people completely stunned by what they just saw on stage, completely blown away.
After having loaded out all their gear back into the van, everyone headed downstairs for a quick photoshoot with one of the photographers from Floated Magazine, located here in Rochester. Getting the actual needed photos out of the way, the guys specifically requested some adorable prom photos as well as the obligatory hard style photos with each other.
As spring rolls on in, the guys in REPS have a few things brewing up their (tattooed) sleeves. Playing as support for the Unearth tour at the Rochester date on April 9th they’re also planning to release their music video for ‘Dead in the Water’ and potentially a ‘REPS Cribs’ series. They’re also getting ready to share the stage with some of Rochester’s best locals and Sirens and Sailors for the JBRD spring hula party!