Egerton isn't actually a permanent member of Wretch Like Me -- he was sitting in for ailing guitarist Trevor Lanigan -- but his distinctive precision playing and constant head-nodding fit nicely into a set that put the group's somewhat pedestrian recorded effort Calling All Cars... to shame. Singer Abe Brennan remained in constant motion while showcasing a steady, powerful voice, and drummer Jason Livermore served as the explosive catalyst as such songs as "Things Wrong" quickened in pace. The Colorado-based group doled out complicated compositions built on choppy riffs and intricate harmonies, with tunes changing complexion in an initially jarring yet ultimately fluid manner. At times, the overlapping elements were so complex that the melodies briefly disappeared into a cloud of noise. Then, after a few seconds, listeners were pulled back into the song in much the same fashion that Brennan exercised yo-yo-style control over his mic stand.
Even more challenging was All, who, in keeping with the composite nature of its name, offered both quantity and quality. The prolific quartet played almost every song from its latest 18-song release Problematic, with highlights including the delightfully sarcastic "Real People," the full-speed gallop "She Broke My Dick," and the moody "Crucifiction," a poignant political statement penned by bassist Karl Alvarez that stood out in a setlist packed with lighter fare. Egerton's technically masterful guitar work proved how far removed All is from standard three-chord pop/punk, while Bill Stevenson's versatile work behind the skins confirmed why he's often listed among the genre's best drummers. Singer Chad Price still lacks his Descendent counterpart Milo Aukerman's irresistible charisma, but his consistent crooning through dozens of selections proved he remains a more-than-capable frontman.
Although it focused on Problematic, All threw in gems from throughout its 12-year lifespan, including the classic tearjerker "She's My Ex" and "Honey Peeps," an electric track from 1998's Mass Nerder. After briefly exiting the stage, All's members played musical chairs, with Alvarez taking over vocal duties, Egerton taking a seat behind the drum set, Price on bass, and Stevenson on guitar. It's a stunt few modern bands are talented enough to pull off, but there was no noticeable falloff as the revamped group ripped through the Descendents' "Coolidge" and an impressive cover of Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell." For its second encore, All returned to its original lineup to churn out a few more bouncy numbers that were not dulled in any way by the inevitable fatigue that results from playing more than a score of songs indoors in early July. This might not have been enough to convince Aukerman-or-bust enthusiasts that the sons of the Descendents produce equally enjoyable music, but those who went in with more of an open-minded stance likely left with the perceived distance between the bands significantly reduced.