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Lagwagon – Live in a Dive

Lagwagon was the first band signed to Fat Wreck Chords, and exemplifies the sound that’s come to be standard for that label–the speeding-bullet drumming, hyper-fast guitars and snotty vocals. They’ve now joined the pantheon of Fat Wreck artists to release a Live in a Dive record.

Once again, I’m faced with the task of trying to review a live album that doesn’t sound live (aside from the between-song banter, exhortations to the crowd to “make more noise,” and the applause that comes in response), full of songs everyone’s already heard (except one and a half tracks), and make it sound new and interesting.


This record sounds a bit more like a live album than the past few, with more witticisms and instrument-swapping from the band and the occasional sing-along from the crowd, which is barely audible in the mix. It feels more Live-In-A-Large-Arena-With-A-Very-Well-Behaved-Crowd than Live-In-A-Dive. Standards and crowd-pleasers like “Violins” and “Beer Goggles” dominate the track list, with one complete new song that’s apparently only for the live record, called “The Chemist.” It stands out mostly because singer Joey Cape allows his voice to actually come out of his mouth, not his nose, rather like he did on his recent acoustic split with No Use for A Name’s Tony Sly.

Like most live albums, including the last two Live in a Dive records I’ve reviewed, this one’s for the serious fans who really want to hear the silly things musicians talk about onstage between songs and need to have every possible version of “Violins” ever recorded. But if you’re looking for a new and different take on Lagwagon, I recommend the aforementioned acoustic record instead of this one, which offers little by way of surprise.


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