It’s a great thing when a tour package feels like it captures a moment in time, and when it packs a venue from start to finish with people who are genuinely there for all the bands, and that’s exactly what it felt like when the Hot Mulligan / Heart Attack Man / Spanish Love Songs / Ben Quad tour hit NYC’s Irving Plaza last night (11/15). Hot Mulligan, Heart Attack Man, and Spanish Love Songs have all been around for a minute, but they’ve all got great new albums out this year that feel like leveling up moments–Why Would I Watch, Freak of Nature, and No Joy, respectively–and Ben Quad are a very promising young band who put out their debut LP last year, followed by two new singles right before this tour. Irving Plaza was full even before the start of Ben Quad’s 7 PM opening set, and the band seemed almost shocked at the loving responses they were getting. Spanish Love Songs called it “the best tour [they’ve] been on in a very long time.”
Ben Quad are literally a Midwest emo band (they’re from Oklahoma), and they’re also very much indebted to the tappy, noodly riffs most associated with that subgenre and region. (They cheekily teased the “Never Meant” riff before one of their songs, just in case you’re unsure who inspired all those pull-offs and open tunings.) They also happen to shred, and they bring a sort of hooky pop punk vibe to the Midwest emo that makes them stand out from the sea of emo revivalists and also makes them perfect for this tour. They’re also clearly just getting better and better–new single “Would You Tell Picasso To Sell His Guitars?” was one of the biggest highlights of their set.
New material stealing the show would be a theme for all four bands, and that was especially true for Spanish Love Songs, whose new LP No Joy is their fourth album in eight years but really feels like their biggest breakthrough yet. From the moment they soundchecked the keyboard part of “Haunted,” the place erupted–vocalist Dylan Slocum had to apologize that they were only soundchecking. Once they did start, the crowd’s pent-up energy exploded. People were yelling along to all the songs, especially the new ones–it really felt like they could’ve been headlining the place. Every band on the tour has their own vibe, and Dylan referred to Spanish Love Songs as the “older, sadder band” of the night. Their death-obsessed, heartland rock-infused emo songs very much lived up to that description, and they made for a nice change of pace… especially before the much more irreverent vibes of Heart Attack Man.
For those not yet initiated into Hammy Nation, my elevator pitch on Heart Attack Man is “hardcore kids who unabashedly love Sum 41,” and those vibes came through loud and clear during their set last night. Eric Egan is very much a hardcore/pop punk crossover-style frontperson, and HAM were the one band of the night really encouraging the crowd to open up the pit and playing songs that called for it. They’re tight, loud, catchy, and funny, but there’s also a darkness in their lyrics that makes the whole thing extra alluring. There’s just something about watching a room of people yell along to pop punk songs about stick ups and the Kennedy assassination.
This was very much a show where it felt like most people were there for every band, but Hot Mulligan were also clearly the headliners. There was no “pit” because there wouldn’t have been room for one; the entire crowd was a sea of moving people, and standing still was simply not an option. They played all 12 songs from the new album throughout their set–even the acoustic song “Betty” that singer Tades Sanville did solo–and it was very clear that everyone was here for all of it. It didn’t matter if it was a single or a deep cut; people went off and screamed along to everything. And the band was just as tight as can be–Tades and guitarist/vocalist Chris Freeman bring the crowd-commanding charisma while the other three keep things hard-hitting and locked in.
I’d seen Hot Mulligan before, but this felt different. They were so dialed in, and people were losing their minds to them. It was one of those really special sets when you can feel that something is happening, that this is a band people are going to be looking back fondly on for generations. If you know you know, but if you don’t, get yourself to a Hot Mulligan show and figure it out for yourself.
The tour continues at Long Island’s Paramount tonight (11/16). All remaining dates are listed below.
Hot Mulligan Setlist (from Boston) (via)
Shouldn’t Have a Leg Hole but I Do
It’s a Family Movie She Hates Her Dad
OG Bule Sky
And I Smoke
Christ Alive My Toe Dammit Hurts
This Song Is Called It’s Called What’s It Called
No Shoes in the Coffee Shop (Or Socks)
Cock Party 2 (Better Than the First)
Gans Media Retro Games
Drink Milk and Run
Shhhh! Golf Is On
Smahccked My Head Awf
Featuring Mark Hoppus
John “The Rock” Cena, Can You Smell What the Undertaker
How Do You Know It’s Not Armadillo Shells?
Heart Attack Man Setlist (via)
Out for Blood
Cut My Losses
Like A Kennedy
Freak Of Nature
Spanish Love Songs Setlist (via)
I’m Gonna Miss Everything
Ben Quad Setlist (from Cincinnati) (via)
We’re Gonna Be Here for a While
Unclench Your Jaw
I’m No Loon
Would You Tell Picasso To Sell His Guitars?
You’re Part of It
Blood for the Blood God
Hot Mulligan / Heart Attack Man / Spanish Love Songs / Ben Quad — 2023 Tour Dates
THU, NOV 16 – THE PARAMOUNT – HUNTINGTON, NY
FRI, NOV 17 – THE FILLMORE PHILADELPHIA – PHILADELPHIA, PA
SAT, NOV 18 – THE NATIONAL – RICHMOND, VA
SUN, NOV 19 – 9:30 CLUB – WASHINGTON, DC
TUE, NOV 21 – THE FILLMORE CHARLOTTE – CHARLOTTE, NC
WED, NOV 22 – HOUSE OF BLUES MYRTLE BEACH – NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC
FRI, NOV 24 – REVOLUTION LIVE – FORT LAUDERDALE, FL
SAT, NOV 25 – HOUSE OF BLUES ORLANDO – LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL
SUN, NOV 26 – THE MASQUERADE – ATLANTA, GA
TUE, NOV 28 – HOUSE OF BLUES HOUSTON – HOUSTON, TX
WED, NOV 29 – EMO’S AUSTIN – AUSTIN, TX
FRI, DEC 1 – THE VAN BUREN – PHOENIX, AZ
SAT, DEC 2 – THE WILTERN – LOS ANGELES, CA
SUN, DEC 3 – HOUSE OF BLUES SAN DIEGO – SAN DIEGO, CA
TUE, DEC 5 – THE FILLMORE – SAN FRANCISCO, CA
WED, DEC 6 – ACE OF SPADES – SACRAMENTO, CA
FRI, DEC 8 – SHOWBOX SODO – SEATTLE, WA
SAT, DEC 9 – MCMENAMINS CRYSTAL BALLROOM – PORTLAND, OR
MON, DEC 11 – THE DEPOT – SALT LAKE CITY, UT
TUE, DEC 12 – SUMMIT MUSIC HALL – DENVER, CO
THU, DEC 14 – VARSITY THEATER – MINNEAPOLIS, MN
FRI, DEC 15 – HOUSE OF BLUES CHICAGO – CHICAGO, IL
SAT, DEC 16 – HOUSE OF BLUES CHICAGO – CHICAGO, IL
SUN, DEC 17 – ROYAL OAK MUSIC THEATRE – ROYAL OAK, MI