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July 31, 2006 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Pennywise With Foamy Ed

If you set aside the two-dimensional cartoon O.C. politics and the whole samesong bludgeoned into an entire career thing, Pennywise are kind of just like a punk-rock Rolling Stones. But instead of a mix of old-rockers and hipster youth, the crowd was an overwhelmingly masculine bunch conforming to a much more rigid set of guidelines than punk originally set out to rebel against. So I guess we might have to set aside irony too.

But fuck it, because these guys play with such a finely honed ferocity, and are about as tight as a band could get. Apparently ‘Fletch’, the oversized guitarist quit drinking which I guess helps. They adhered strictly to the whole ‘one or two new songs amidst a set of classics’ routine, and it worked well. They have albums chock full of fan-classics to dispense at will, meaning that it may have been threeyears since I last listened to a Pennywise album, but I knew all of the words. And even the two new ones I pretty much had the hang of by the final chorus.

I expected to find the political bent of the lyrics grating. I expected to fight through cringing to reach some level of ironic enjoyment. Instead I just found myself having a great time. Songs like ‘Alien’, ‘Society’, ‘Unknown Road’, ‘Pennywise’, ‘Perfect People’ and ‘Fuck Authority’ may not have played so directly into some sort of needy adolescent alienation anymore, but on their own they were just good songs. I may no longer be moshpit fit, but I was happy watching from afar, singing along and doing that old person combination of the foot-tap and the head-nod.

And I know this may have been an uncool show to be attending in some circles. It’s been 30 years or so since punk, and it has traveled far. The high culture crowd boiled off the punk ethos, leaving a four chord musical convention that no one could argue can get tired. But you’d struggle to argue against the fact that done well it can be a whole basket load of fun. Which I think is the key to their continued success. And besides, what’s more entertaining than watching a bunch of overly-testeroned jocks beating the shit out of each other to ‘Down Under’, a song made popular by a camp 80s pop-group?


About the Author ()

James Robinson is a university dropout turned journalist who likes to pretend he has an honours degree. Turn ons include soup, scarfs, a hot bath and some FM-smooth Kenny G-esque instrumental jazz. Turn offs include student politicians, the homeless, and people who pronounce it supposebly.

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