Tom Gabel, Dan Andriano and Brendan Kelly

by Jack Diablo
Acoustic punk is a bit of a funny animal. It’s hard to say how the whole thing got started but I suppose it was the inevitable result of punk’s softening image in the past decade or so.
One thing it does do is put a lot more emphasis on the lyrics of a song. When you aren’t shouting over distorted thrashing guitars and pounding percussion, the audience can actually hear the words. Couple that with the unspoken expectation that acoustic music should contain something more than infectious anthems and a feverish tempo and you have what would seem like an incompatible marriage of styles.
But the truth is punk actually lends itself quite well to an acoustic interpretation. Even punk rockers have a sensitive side and what better way to let it out than a guy (or girl) and a guitar? Most pop-punk these days is already half-way there anyway.
Going solo and making acoustic punk also seems to be quite the trend. All three of the performers who played Cafe Eleven on April 10th have played in punk bands and are trying things the acoustic way.
Brendan Kelly of The Lawrence Arms and Dan Andriano of Alkaline Trio each played a set opening for Against Me!’s Tom Gabel. Brendan and Dan have a long history, having both played in the ska punk band Slapstick before forming their own separate bands.
The crowd was radically different from the crusty punk crowd at the MDC show I attended the night before. These kids were clean and lacked the teenage angst most associate with punk rock. But that didn’t stop the music from being just as politically charged. Gabel sang about a wannabe anarcho-feminist FBI-informant named Anna and her damage done.
There were plenty of long-time fans of each of these guys who sang their hearts out right along with the boys. Even though I wasn’t all that familiar with their repertoire, I found their songs genuine and moving with only a few songs about silly stuff just for fun and a few that I was surprised to recognize.
All in all, yet another great show at St Augustine’s best venue for live music.

Tom Gabel –
Dan Andriano (Alkaline Trio) – or
Brendan Kelly (The Lawrence Arms) –