Rich Howells

PHOTOS/VIDEO: The Menzingers’ ‘Hello Exile’ acoustic set at Gallery of Sound in Wilkes-Barre, 10/06/19

PHOTOS/VIDEO: The Menzingers’ ‘Hello Exile’ acoustic set at Gallery of Sound in Wilkes-Barre, 10/06/19
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Celebrating the release of their sixth studio album, “Hello Exile,” Scranton punk band The Menzingers played a series of three acoustic record store shows last week – one in Brooklyn, one in their current home of Philadelphia, and the last one in the Gallery of Sound in Wilkes-Barre on Sunday, Oct. 6.

This marked their third free Gallery of Sound release show but, this time, only vocalists/guitarists Greg Barnett and Tom May took the stage for six songs from their new Epitaph Records release, some amusing stories, and little tidbits like how “Portland” is “originally and is kind of about a couple from North Scranton.”

“It’s so fucking awesome to be home. Thank you so much for having us back. And we wanted to do this show last of all the in-stores. Being from this area is pretty great, and I really like a lot of the quirks that we have that you don’t realize when we get to travel everyone else, like, ‘You mean every restaurant isn’t an Italian restaurant?’ and things like that,” May said to the crowd that stretched through every aisle of the store.

Introducing “Last to Know,” he noted that the song is “a little bit about epigenetics and kind of how the decisions and events that happened to people in the generations before us carry down to us. And I think it’s kind of an interesting place to grow up in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with all the coal miners and the flood that happened in the ’70s and stuff like that and those kind of things that we still see the effects of today, but we still have such a cool, fun, and positive cultural place to be in.”

The Menzingers led a national tour with The Sidekicks and Queen of Jeans earlier this year, and their fall headlining run begins Oct. 25 in Columbus, Ohio and wraps Dec. 7 in Boston, Massachusetts before they head overseas for a European tour in early 2020. Fellow Scranton band Tigers Jaw and Culture Abuse will provide support for these shows, which include a concert at Franklin Music Hall in Philadelphia on Friday, Nov. 29. No matter where their heartfelt music takes them, though, they never forget where it all started.

“This is a really, really big deal for us to put out this album. It really means a lot to us, and it means so much to have everybody in our hometown come out and support us like this for all these years,” Barnett enthused. “It’s been amazing.”

After the pair’s performance, drummer Joe Godino, bassist Eric Keen, and Eric’s loyal little dog Harvey joined them at a table to meet fans and sign autographs on posters, CDs, and special peach swirl vinyls of “Hello Exile.”

“It’s been a while since we’re playing new songs. It gets to a point sometimes playing the old songs when you do it a couple hundred times where you can kind of just exist in a mental space, not outside of it completely, but you can think, ‘Ah, did I leave the fucking stove on?’ while you’re playing the song. This is like, ‘No, I need to pay exact attention. I can’t mess it up,’ so it’s been really cool,” May said.

The Menzingers setlist, Oct. 6, 2019, Gallery of Sound, Wilkes-Barre:

Strangers Forever
I Can’t Stop Drinking
America (You’re Freaking Me Out)
Last to Know

Watch NEPA Scene’s live stream of the full set below:

See NEPA Scene’s photos of The Menzingers playing their previous acoustic show at the Gallery of Sound back in 2017 here. For more recent coverage, see them playing at the 2019 Vans Warped Tour in Atlantic City, New Jersey here and check out our review and photos of the band’s 2018 Bethlehem concert here.

Photos by Scott Kucharski Photography/NEPA Scene