By Kendra Sheetz
Photos by Bambi Guthrie

When you think of musical Meccas of the Midwest, I’m going to guess that Fort Wayne, Indiana doesn’t make the list. However, next time you’re scrolling through a band’s tour schedule, check if there is a location between the Detroit and the Chicago dates. And there it will be: Fort Wayne. I’ve come to favor shows here over Chicago for a number of reasons. The venues are smaller, meaning less people in attendance. The people are nicer, meaning less douchey assholes starting pit fights because they did too many Jameson’s shots. And the prices are lower for admittance, for drinks, for everything really. It’s safe to say that this town is quickly becoming my home away from home. So when it was announced that Masked Intruder would be playing a FREE show in Fort Wayne on May 11th, I requested the weekend off from work, hopped in the car, and took a 3 hour drive.

The show was at O’Sullivan’s Italian Pub, a conundrum in itself. My photographer (and best friend) and I showed up late. This can be blamed on too many Crispin Glovers and Pineapple Upside Down Cake shots at dinner. We entered the bar and weaved our way through the crowd into the back room where The Sour Mash Kats where already playing. They are a 4 piece with a rockabilly/psychobilly sound. The bassist, the token female of the band, slaps an upright bass while the guitarist harnesses that trademarked wailing rockabilly sound. However, instead of singing about the typical subject matter of ghouls, zombies, and other macabre creatures of the night, The Sour Mash Kats take a lyrical nod from Horror Punk bands like The Cramps. With a voice almost identical to that of the great Kepi Ghoulie, singer Ricky Racket howled through songs about flesh eating bacteria with one hand on his hip and the other clutching a vintage 1950s silver microphone. The Sour Mash Kats are fun, catchy, and breathing new life into a genre that has been dead and buried since the mid 2000s.

Somewhere around this point, I was escorted to the bar and was instructed to order a “Ramone.” From what my somewhat hazy, somewhat grayed out mind remembers, a Ramone is a reddish beverage served in a frosty stein mixed with about 20 different liquors. It tastes like a popsicle, a dangerous blackout-waiting-to-happen popsicle. Ramone in hand, I headed back to watch The Distractions. Hailing from my hometown of South Bend, Indiana, they are a 4 piece that plays completely accessible and catchy, melodic pop punk. Fans of Face to Face rejoice; you have found your new favorite local band. With a Fat Mike-esque snarl and layers of gang vocals, I dare you to not nod your head or tap a foot to the beat (even if you aren’t 4 Ramones to the wind like I was). The Distractions’ new album Wilshire is out now and available on their bandcamp site. However I feel like I must add, the sheer force behind each recorded song is nothing compared to their remarkable live show.

At this point of the night, there was only one thing that could keep me away from running back to the bar every time my stein was empty. That one thing was Flamingo Nosebleed, one of the Midwest’s best- kept secrets. Although they have a large following in some areas, the band is wrongfully unheard of in others. If you’ve ever thought “Man, I really love skate based 3 chord pop punk but some of those guys in TBR act like narcissistic assholes” then check out Flamingo Nosebleed. The band consists of three of the nicest, most hard working, down to earth dudes anyone could wish to meet. Exuding pure energy while jumping onto and off ledges, Jake Emissions – the sole initial member and singer/guitarist of the band – stole the show. Philthy Phil held down his bass lines while drinking beer out of a pitcher offered up by a crowd member. Mad Mike kept it relatively calm during their set but you can catch a picture of him in the photo gallery crowd surfing to the Intruder set. It’s inherently clear that these are dudes who just want to play the type of music they would like to listen to and have a good time. And really, shouldn’t that be what its all about?

Last but never least, was Masked Intruder. Is there anything left to say about this power pop foursome that hasn’t been covered in the last year and a half? Their recent move from Red Scare to Fat Wreck Chords has seemed to skyrocket them into undeniable recognition. Tonight, they proved that despite their move to a larger label, they are still willing to work just as hard to steal our hearts and our wallets. The groups’ set list was an impressive 17 songs in length with an encore of covers from both The Outfield and Teenage Bottle Rocket. The crowd, who had remained relatively calm for the previous three bands, exploded into dancing, pitting, and crowd surfing. Everything was so out of control that the front row of fans was forced to reinforce microphone stands from falling over as the crowd swayed and pogoed. Maybe it was all the Ramones that I had (my count was lost somewhere at 6 or 7) but I could barely hear Intruder Blue singing over the massive crowd who sang every word to every song flawlessly. If you haven’t seen Intruder yet, shame on you. But don’t fret! The masked mooks are on tour at this very moment with The Mixtapes and will also be making another round on the Red Scare Across America Tour with Elway starting in July. You can also catch an interview with Intruder Blue in Issue #2 out now!

Purchase Issue #2 here (while supplies last):

Check out the Red Scare Across America Tour dates here:

Masked Intruder  |  |

Flamingo Nosebleed  |

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