Live in a Dive


Live in a Dive is, as the title implies, a live album, released by one of the lesser-known but no less appealing bands on the Fat Wreck Chords label. As the second of its kind (following another album from No Use for a Name), it’s an auspicious beginning for Fat Wreck’s live series.

For listeners unfamiliar with Bracket, Live in a Dive is inherently valuable. Nine of the 17 songs are from two out-of-print albums, 924 Forestville St. and 4-Wheel Vibe, which were both released on Caroline back when the label was also putting out Fudge, Smashing Pumpkins, and The Drop Nineteens. In addition to the now hard-to-find songs, the gig setlist also dips into two Fat Wreck compilations and a previous Bracket hodgepodge on Fat Wreck called E is for Everything — another high point for neophytes. Those already familiar with the band will just wonder where the hell they’ve been.

This is a solid live album, with clear, soundboard quality music (i.e., few crowd catcalls disrupting the band’s vicious punk-pop hooks); an amusing comic booklet and detailed track info in the liner notes, and an enhanced CD section with an interview and a Bracket video compilation. The volume on Trailer Park, the last video, is strangely muted, and the MPEG file format tends to confuse the computer between audio or video CD; but the short Q&A does solve the mystery of the enigmatic Warren. For that alone Live in a Dive is worth it. But the extensive delay from recording in August 1999 at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco to commercial release in March 2002 is the lingering question.

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