by Geno Thackara
The more things change, eh? In my day – hah hah – Green Day and Offspring were all over the place, the kids before us had the Misfits and Black Flag, and the kids before them had the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. Loud, fun and gleefully ridiculous, Teenage Bottlerocket is happy to carry on the fine tradition of seeing what you can do with three chords and a simple hook (and maybe the occasional story about murder in a fast-food joint). Saturday’s audience at the Trocadero crossed all those generations: there were high-schoolers, college kids, thirtysomethings, quite a few who could have children in college themselves, and a handful of single-digit-aged youngsters out past their bedtime. There may have only been a minority of us not sporting black leather or black hoodies or both, but the appeal of a simple goofy good time is something for all styles and all ages.
The quadruple bill ranged from the hardcore of long-established Pennywise (their stage banner proudly proclaiming “25th Anniversary,” and it was from two years ago) to New Jersey’s No RiSK, who started to make their stamp on the scene in 2011. In between they were rounded out by the decade-and-a-half-strong A Wilhelm Scream, who sounded closer to thrash than punk. Each one had their share of the crowd flailing and banging heads while screaming along with the words, while they were still different enough to complement each other rather than making it sound like the same thing all night long.
Teenage Bottlerocket took the stage behind a guy in a green monster mask waving a sign of their new album cover, set to the sound of Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” before launching into their super-catchy single “Nothing Else Matters (When I’m with You)” at a speed that’s barely humanly possible to play. It made just about the perfect tone to set for a jumped-up performance of pop-punk that wasn’t afraid to keep the ‘pop’ half out in front. This is music best enjoyed with a refreshing lack of self-consciousness – they have the right lighthearted attitude to stick with something greatly stupid until it somehow becomes stupidly great.
The new features “I Found a Girl” and “They Call Me Steve” (mashed up with a weird touch of Van Halen, of all things) fit perfectly with past tunes like “Stupid Games” and “Bloodbath at Burger King”. Most of the set came from their newest album Tales From Wyoming, which frontman Ray Carlisle only noted in passing by adding “Philly’s cooler than Wyoming.” Not much for chatter, these guys. They’d rather use their stage time to try to give the crowd whiplash instead.
They very appropriately left us with “Headbanger”, a song about a metal head who actually gives himself a concussion doing just that. It made a great closer – a way to smile and say that we’re all in on the joke, and does it really matter how silly the joke is if we all laugh and enjoy it anyway? I may pretend to be mature and usually prefer music a bit on the smarter side, but sometimes it’s still great to just crank something up loud instead of yelling at the neighborhood kids to get off my lawn. If that sounds like something you want, Teenage Bottlerocket is one band that shouldn’t disappoint.