Beach Slang brings a punk punch to Bottom Lounge

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On May 16, James Alex stepped up to the microphone and introduced his band to the Bottom Lounge crowd by proclaiming, “We’re Beach Slang and we’re here to punch you right in the heart!” What followed that honest statement was an incredible set from the Philadelphia punk band.

This was the Beach Slang’s second show in Chicago since the release of their debut album “The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us” in October.

Beach Slang, composed of of Alex, JP Flexner, Ed McNulty and Ruben Gallego have been riding the wave of success since their album release. It followed a pair of EPs the band put out in 2014, “Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken?” and “Cheap Thrills on a Dead End Street,” which put them on the map and earned them a dedicated fanbase that has only grown since. Alex, a veteran of the punk scene, is very grateful for their positive reception.

“It feels incredible, man. Any work we do in life, it feels good to have it matter or feel purposeful on some level,” Alex said.  He credits the thriving rock scene in Philadelphia for making the band as good as they have been, comparing it to the Beach Boys/Beatles dynamic back in the 1960s. “In a really positive, supportive way, we really drive each other to work that’s probably better than what we’d do if we weren’t in that hurricane of goodness that’s happening there now.”

Many of Alex’s songs focus on the feelings of being young, falling in love, and having dumb fun with your friends. “I think I’m just glued there, emotionally and spiritually,” he revealed. “Those feelings of being alive and being in love and just losing yourself in these really beautiful moments we’re given as human beings, I sort of wear that unapologetically.”

“I got into rock and roll because you’re given permission to exist in an arrested state of development; not in an irresponsible way…but I sort of get to be a kid forever.”

That kid-like state was evident during the band’s set at the Bottom Lounge. In typical Beach Slang fashion, halfway through the night the band threw out the setlist and turned the show into a glorified house party. Fans shouted out requests, and then rejoiced as the band launched into songs from The Replacements and Jawbreaker (Two of Alex’s “desert island” bands – the others being the Magnetic Fields, The Smiths, and Jesus and Mary Chain). As their time grew shorter, Alex resorted to singing a line or two of a song before moving on to the next request.

To end the night, Beach Slang closed with the anthemic “Punk or Lust.” As Alex sang that “they don’t know the power of amplifiers” and the whole room echoed the lines back to him, that power become very evident.  Anytime a group of people who feel like outsiders can get together in a basement to watch bands like Beach Slang and scream their lungs out with their best friends, they prove how important and powerful rock and roll is. Just like Bruce Springsteen once said, “we know ‘it’s only rock and roll’ but it’s not…it feels an awful lot like love.” When you’re watching Beach Slang, that’s exactly what it feels like.