To celebrate their 25th anniversary, Hot Water Music set up a tour to play their albums “Caution” and “No Division” in full. These albums have become a living soundtrack for many over the years, and the jam-packed Echoplex showed just how important these songs and this band are to their fans.

Opening up the show was Spanish Love Songs. They seem to have been touring constantly and creating a lot of buzz along the way. Their fast-paced music woke up the audience immediately. The energy in the room was high, even on Spanish Love Songs’ more mellow tunes. A group of fans was front-and-center to lend their voices as accompaniment to the sing-along-inducing vocals of the band’s songs. Spanish Love Songs was a perfect way to start the night off and I know they gained more fans with their engaging performance and catchy music.

I’d first heard of American Steel after a funny anecdote from Polar Bear Club’s tour manager, but by the time I actually got into them the band had already gone dormant. American Steel recently returned with an EP and a string of live performances, so I knew I couldn’t miss out. I was surrounded by plenty of like-minded fans that were singing along to every word, happy to hear the songs that have been pumping through speakers but with no memory of a live show to match. The band sounded amazing although their modesty probably wouldn’t let them believe so. Like Hot Water Music, American Steel was touting a 20+ year track record as a band, but you wouldn’t know it based on their intensity on stage. They’d even joked that they were going through their songs too fast to fill their set time. If you get a chance to, make sure to see American Steel live and get ready to get sucked into some of the catchiest hooks in punk rock.

Hot Water Music came out to a packed up venue. Fans of all ages filled the floor in front of the stage to hear “Caution” played in its entirety, but it wasn’t just a one-sided event. With the album’s abrupt opening lyrics, the crowd erupted with an energetic yell and fists in the air. And here, celebrating 25 years as a band, Hot Water Music actually looked shocked at the audience’s warm reception. The band has been enlisting help from their friend Chris Cresswell (the Flatliners) for a few tours, and although the vocals are noticeably different, fans have definitely shown an appreciation for the energy he brings to the live shows.

“Caution” is filled with many fan-favorites so it’s no surprise that there was plenty of singing along throughout the night. And even though it was a school-night, that didn’t stop a few fans from taking advantage of the no-barricade show to stage dive. The band ended the night with an encore performance of more favorites from the rest of their storied career. They were visibly humbled by the turn-out and thanked the crowd for 25 years of support. Chuck Ragan even took the time to offer words of encouragement to fans that may be facing adversity in their lives, citing Hot Water Music as an example that hard work, dedication, and belief in yourself can make anything possible. “Here’s to 25 more” were the parting words of the night and the crowd cheered out to let Hot Water Music know they’d be there, too.

Thanks to Amy for setting me up for the night!