Live In Vancouver (04/30/14)
Classic punk shows have a vastly different vibes than most shows. Last night’s 25th anniversary Pennywise tour stop at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver cemented that ideology.
Stepping into the venue mere minutes before Teenage Bottlerocket were set to hit the stage, there was already a joyous sense of drunken buffoonery in the air as the crowd sung and dance along to Rancid and NOFX as Ruby Soho and Bob played through the speakers. Everyone in attendance grew up on these songs, and reliving them with strangers just seemed right.
The excitement carried forward as Wyoming’s Teenage Bottlerocket hit the stag, led by their hoodie-wearing skeleton ring leader throwing as many middle fingers towards the crowd as possible. The Ramones-inspired pop-punk band blasted through nearly twenty songs in their 40 minute set list. Low swinging basses played over a split stance, air jumps timed to the perfect down stroke, and nassally three chord punk rock – Teenage Bottlerocket are the defacto pop-punk specimen; and for the first time ever, the sound lived up to their performance. Crisp and well mixed, songs like Don’t Want To Go, Mutilate Me, Welcome To The Nuthouse, Skate Or Die and even a Bad Religion and Ramones cover blared through the sound system with great clarity – a feat that has been missing the last few times the four piece hit Vancouver. It got the crowd’s attention, pulling them in for an active circle pit and non-stop pogo party. And while they focused on spitting out as many tracks from their lengthy catalogue as possible, their few moments of banter recalling past trips through BC worked well to win over the crowd.
Suffice to say, it was already off to a good start; and after a thirty minute set change (which was a tad longer than what they needed), it got even better.
By this time the venue was packed as fans clamoured to see the Hermosa Beach legends. Once again fronted by Jim Lindberg after their tumultuous and very public separation period, the skate-punk act stormed the stage and quickly launched into their title track: Pennywise. The crowd, featuring people of all ages, picked up off the energy and – with the help of more than a few beverages – enthusiastically sang every word back at him.
Pennywise were, essentially, Pennywise. After touring for twenty five years in punk clubs around the world, the band has crafted a style and sound that has been copied and covered by countless other bands. Yet there’s still only one Pennywise. They won’t surprise you, they won’t shock you; but if you’re a fan, they won’t disappoint you. Pulsating with Randy Bradbury’s bass lines, The Commodore thundered with their signature skate-punk flanked by Fletcher Dragge’s guitar riffs and Lindberg’s enigmatic live presence.
Pumping out hits like My Own Country, Unknown Road, Date With Destiny, Time To Burn, Same Old Story, and Society – the band put delivered a true punk show worthy of being called a punk show. Unsurprisingly, it was the final few selections that really fired the crowd up. Covers of Bad Religion’s Suffer and Minor Threat’s eponymous tune started it off, before they launched into Fuck Authority. A brief chant for an encore brought them back for a sped up version of Stand By Me before closing with their classic sing along anthem Bro Hymn. As the chants of “wooo, wo, wo, wooooo” carried through the room, members of The Isotopes and Teenage Bottlerocket joined them on stage and for the briefest of moments you forgot it was 2014.