The T Lounge in El Paso, a cozy, hardcore bar on Texas Avenue, was the perfect venue for the cozy, hardcore punk show put on Monday night.
Headliners Hot Water Music brought along their self-expressed "friends" Alexisonfire, Moments in Grace and Planes Mistaken for Stars for a night of great music.
Alexisonfire received a surprisingly warm reception - the Canadian band clearly has gained a following in the area.
They pounded through "Pulmonary Archery," that began with an oddly technical and delicate guitar solo before running into the driving melody and screaming vocals supplied by singer George Pettit.
"44.Caliber Love Letter" was equally driving, but not for nothing did they save it for last. The song was incredibly energetic. Pettit's vocals were full of punk rage and he easily matched the guitar fury created by Dallas Green and Chris Steele.
"I liked watching the crowd going crazy," Sabrina Correa said. "I liked the guitarist and the bassist. They're spunky."
Planes Mistaken for Stars brought moments of politically inspired wrath.
"Pigs" a song about "our wonderful presidential administration," was scathing and full of vehemence, with angry vocals tapering off into an outerspace guitar monologue from Matt Bellinger as vocalist Gared O'Donnell gloomily intoned his despair.
Hot Water Music began their set strong, proving that years on the road really do make for an awesome live band. Vocalist Chris Wollard sang with his chin up and his throat exposed, adding an element of vulnerability to his screaming over a soaring guitar melody created by Wollard and Chuck Ragan.
"All Heads Down" stood out with a melodic yet harsh bass and guitar punch in which Hot Water Music created a perfectly beautiful moment within the dense universe of the riveting sound.
Drummer George Rebelo subtly and expertly led the group through each song, with bassist Jason Black adding a rhythm that couldn't be lost.
The concert took a surprisingly sweet turn when Tony Bowman was welcomed on stage as a friend of the group. Bowman, who has been a fan of Hot Water Music since 1997 and has seen them perform in eight states, asked Ellen Simouson to marry him. She tearfully agreed and then Hot Water Music tore into "Our Own Way." Wollard sang the uncharacteristically romantic lyrics, ("We'll live and love until we're dead holding on to what we've come to know ... every time you hear this song be sure you are not alone") without his characteristic rasp during the sonically heavy song, giving it a ballad-like feel.
Though most of the songs performed were from the group's most recent albums, they performed lots of their older stuff to the delight of some fans.
"'Roof Top' is my favorite song, and they played it," Kate Huebel said. "They are a little hardcore compared to what I usually like, yet I still really like them."
Hot Water Music ended the show with "Wayfarer," and with the chorus of "So no regrets, and no looking back to sinking ships./I'll strip the gauze for a rational self-analysis," it seemed to sum up the night of amazing punk.
"I enjoyed it a lot," Derek Reyes said. "They have a lot of energy, and the vocals are really unique. The other bands were great too. This is an awesome tour."
Hot Water Music left the stage, declaring the T Lounge and the crowd to be impressive.
"You guys should be stoked to have a place like this," Ragan said. "It's awesome."
By Maggie Adkins