Back You are here: Home Reviews Live Review: Pennywise, Face To Face, The Menzingers @ The Tivoli, Brisbane 06.04.2013

Live Review: Pennywise, Face To Face, The Menzingers @ The Tivoli, Brisbane 06.04.2013

Having played together for 25 years (including the occasional fistfight), it seems only fitting that Pennywise are hosting this event at a venue familiar with time and bust-ups – the Tivoli. It is hard not argue that this is truly the finest moderate-sized venue Brisbane can offer.

While the Zoo has that distinctive gutter-trash feeling to it and the Hi-Fi in West End has the acoustics of an steel cage, the Tiv is a perfect mix of the two – a wonderfully warm room with lovely furnishings and a surprisingly cosy environment. The other surprise of the night was the age of the crowd – a nice mix of new punks and old-school rockers combine to keep the energy flowing. Whereas other experienced bands have only dinosaurs to count on for support, this influx of new blood would be encouraging for the band, showing they still have popularity, and most of all, distinction.

The opening act are Pennsylvanian punk group The Menzingers. It is obvious the quartet are here to keep the high-intensity atmosphere up, but they take it with both hands, rocking out to the already packed audience of curious onlookers. The music by nature is generic, but it is executed with almost robot-like precision, while singer Tom May adds the human element with his guttural screaming. The band also has all the elements of a classic punk band – a left-handed guitarist, baseball caps and obscure instruments flung around to songs faster than 140 BPM. And a handful of the songs are particularly noteworthy, especially ‘The Obituaries’ and ‘Good Things’, which deserve Triple M exposure. Bassist Eric Keen sounds crisp and tight, and drummer Joe Godino pounds the life out of his kit as The Menzingers put all their energy into every song, forcing the crowd to pay attention to a band they didn’t come to see.

The theme for tonight is nostalgia, and to complement this Pennywise have brought along fellow So-Cal punk group Face To Face with them. The legendary band, fronted by Trever Keith, has had a number of line-up changes of their time, with Keith the only consistent member. However, the original guitarist Chad Yaro has returned for the band’s latest release, Three Chords and a Half-Truth, and Face To Face sounds every bit like they did 20 years ago. Harnessing their classic skater-punk sound, this wonderfully nostalgic set of classics and new hits awakens the crowd from their slumber and it is almost single-handedly because of Keith. He might be on the wrong side of 40 and his middle-age spread is definitely showing, but tonight he is an angry young man again – and most importantly, his voice is in perfect nick. He doesn’t speak much, but has time to admire the number of girls in the audience, stopping the show from being “a sausage-fest”, and doesn’t mind chastising them by comparing them to Sydney. However, the rest of the band contribute to the performance as well, particularly bassist Scott Shiflett, who works his way all over the fretboard to steer away from the generic root-note nature of punk rock bass-playing. As a whole, if the band was any tighter they’d snap, and the audience respond with huge reactions to ‘Ordinary’, ‘Pastel’ and mega-hit ‘Disconnected’ to cap off a spectacular show for seasoned professionals such as Face To Face.

As the crowd gathers in the middle of the floor for the main act, it’s not completely confirmed until the hulking figure of guitarist Fletcher Dagge swaggers on that a Pennywise show is about to start. After a tumultuous experience with new frontman Zoli Teglas during the recording and touring of new album All or Nothing, the comforting sight of original singer Jim Lindberg makes the opening riffs of ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ even more exciting. Lindberg’s voice is still perfect, and his partner-in-crime Dagge, who is easily the biggest man in punk rock (literally), spits out crisp and crunchy riffs over the top of Randy Bradbury’s tight bass-playing and frenetic drumming of Byron McMackin. The political influence is obvious as well, with Lindberg  expressing his distaste for North Korea, and the band giving the audience the choice of cover, who choose Black Flag for the quartet. For Pennywise, this is just a trip down memory lane more than anything – nothing off the latest album is played in replace of classics like ‘Same Old Story’, ‘Fuck Authority’, ‘Perfect People’ and ‘Living For Today’. However, the pleasant surprise is a cover of Men At Work’s ‘Land Down Under’, which sounds like it was made to be a punk song. Before the end, Dagge launches into a passionate speech about why governments should be afraid of their people (“We own this, motherfuckers”), displaying all the passion of a young man, but the foresight of cynical old man.

They then rip into their finale ‘Society’, a pumping anthem dedicated to everything wrong Western culture, and it’s clear this message is not falling on deaf ears, with the lyrics being screamed back at the band. It’s rare to see a band of this quality and pedigree in this country, but even rarer for them to treat it with all the empathy and passion of a hometown show. It might be just Brisbane, but to Pennywise, every show is at Hermosa Beach, California.

Thomas Gillespie - AAA Backstage

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