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Evan Weiss Is An Unexpected Surprise

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Evan Weiss of Into It. Over It. Images courtesy Topshelf Records.
Phoenix Frank Turner Show Turns Into A Revelation Of The Power Of Punk And A Talented Chicagoan

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By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine

Oct. 25, 2011 — While heading over to the Rhythm Room in central Phoenix recently to see Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls perform, I had only a thread of an idea of what this article was going to be.
I did not want to do a simple review of the show; you could find that anywhere.

I knew there had to be something special to unearth, some great story hidden within this English folk punker's performance.

But what?

I was also uneasy on that ride over, not knowing if I would have the clout to write this mythical story if it ever appeared to me. I had attempted to contact the band's representatives at Epitaph, to no avail. So, I was going in blind, with no guarantee that I would end the night with any material beyond that of a review.

The whole situation made me feel nervous and jittery and uncomfortable. Not at all how I wanted to feel going into a show featuring two of my favorite musical acts, Turner and local boys Andrew Jackson Jihad. I wanted to enjoy the music and have fun, but the lingering notion of my impending failure as a writer kept gnawing at the back of my skull.

For those of you non-writers, few worse feelings exist. The combination of unpreparedness and a lack of confidence had the potential to ruin the night for me.

So, I downed two $1.50 Pabst Blue Ribbons, courtesy of my buddy's dad, and tried to remain calm.

And then the opening band, Into It. Over It., took the stage and totally bailed me out.

The one-man act, comprised of Chicagoan Evan Weiss, hit the stage right as I finished my beers and I dug his sound right away. As the only piece of the ticket I was not familiar with, Into It had the potential to be left out of my story completely, but its combination of bare acoustic soul and pop-punk sensibilities immediately hooked me.

Not to mention, Weiss is an awesome musician. Between the guy's mastery of the guitar and stellar voice, there was a whole lot to like. And then he goes and reminds me what punk music is all about and gives me a great topic and allows me to enjoy myself.

About halfway through the set, Weiss stopped playing and began to talk over the lull of the crowd. Instead of the generic banter bands usually spout in between songs, Weiss began to bare his soul to all of us.

He let us know why he chose to take a chance on music. He reminded those of us who had forgotten why we cram ourselves in to small rooms in between strangers to spend a few hours rocking out.

"Punk is about building a community together where we can all interact," he told me after the show.

After pitting the kids against the "grownups" in cheering match, Weiss talked a little bit about punk and what it means to him.

Usually I hate when bands get preachy, but this did not come off that way. It just seemed genuine and heart-felt.

"Whether it's a shitty job or you hate your parents or some other reason," Weiss said. "We all got into punk for some reason."

He then made an analogy that drew a few laughs, but the growing attention of the crowd proved that we all knew what he was talking about.

"We ran to punk's house and banged on the door," he said. "And punk is like 'It's raining out there, come on, get in here."

Weiss went a little further with the analogy and then broke into a story that proves the extent to which music comforted him.

It involved Weiss finding out about the murder of a friend while he was thousands of miles away on tour with another band he barely knew. He talked about the pain and confusion and utter loneliness that the entire situation spawned.

Over the noise of the bar crowd, he opened up to us.

"Come on guys, I'm spilling my heart out up here," he pleaded with the noisy patrons.

He talked about having no one around him with whom he was comfortable mourning. He had just started on tour with the other band and they were not close enough with him to offer any substantial support.

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