[PHOTOS + WORDS] Wes Hoffman’s Positive Punk at The Pat Connolly Tavern, 3/22/18

By Jessi McKee, contributor to IWTAS:

You probably know Wes Hoffman from his Strangehouse podcast, where he sits down with touring bands passing through St. Louis. Or maybe you’ve run into his crew when he takes the podcast to Warped Tour, or even So What?! Fest in Texas. Perhaps you know Wes from Treehouse Networkshop, his career-coaching enterprise and networking/recruiting business. I, for one, met Hoffman during an underground show at a smoothie bar in Collinsville, IL, on a hot night last May. Having followed Hoffman and Strangehouse for some time on Twitter, I was thrilled to meet him and the team in person. This guy exudes kindness, positivity, and encouragement, the combo of which is a breath of fresh air in a sometimes critical and insular music community.

Subsequently, Wes and I caught up with each other a few more times at shows. We chatted about our experiences working with music festivals; I gushed about my favorite Strangehouse episodes (the one from So What?! with Light Years is a standout for me, if you’re curious). Wes is always upbeat and a motivating force. When he started a music project, it came as no surprise that the album would be called Positive Punk.

On Thursday March 22nd, I tucked into his sold out release show on the second story of The Pat Connolly Tavern on Oakland. Friends, fans, and family melded together, buzzing with support. An Urban Chestnut beer in hand, I found a buddy in the crowd and settled in around the fourth row next to the art display by Tracy Hutton. Hutton did the illustration for Wes’s album and some of his merch; look him up! Right Quick kicked off the concert with pop punk/alt-rock burners. They built up literal heat in the room and capitalized on the crowd’s energy.

Wes Hoffman

Then Wes, joined by drummer Justin Unterseh and bass player Jacob Boyd, got to work churning out upbeat punk with lyrics that favored the bold and inspired. I settled in front of Hoffman, who was on guitar and vocals. The room was packed with jubilant people and I couldn’t help but grin from behind my lens. Wes, whether he’s playing music or talking to you in a crowded room, has the ability to inspire on an individual level. His songs speak to the same values he espouses in his everyday life. The tune “Follow Your Heart” tells listeners not to settle for less, and “Keep Your Focus” motivates fans to stick with a goal while navigating challenges.

Pursuing dreams isn’t easy, but Hoffman proves that musical advice about doing just that is best received from someone who’s actually done it.

You can enjoy two of the most invigorating tracks from Wes Hoffman’s Positive Punk on Bandcamp: weshoffman.bandcamp.com, or on Spotify.

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