Uk Subs with Riot 99 , An Irato , Zugha , the Downbelows and Son of Bronto at the Kathedral, April 11. Tickets: $22.50. Attendance: 150. Rating: NN Rating: NN
The more things change the more they stay the same. As shiny happy pop punk slowly goes the way of the snakeskin cowboy hat, the get-pissed-as-fuck, shout-your-fucking-head-off, slam-into-people and fuck-the-establishment scene has remained pretty much unchanged over the past couple of decades. Kids in plaid, torn fishnets and perfect mohawks share space with a few aging lifers in tight jeans and less fancy hairdos.
Between bands, three crusty young men in jeans, army boots and leather jackets (one with "The Exploited" on its back) stand around looking bored.
Suddenly, one of them nonchalantly body checks his buddy, who smashes into his adjacent friend, who smashes back. They all slam into each other for about four seconds, then stop and resume looking bored.
The smoke is so thick I can barely breathe - and I smoke. A young-looking girl with spiky hair comes onstage to beg the person who stole her jacket to give it back. A supporter threatens the unknown perp with death.
Riot 99 have given up an abrasive, anthemic old-school set complete with shout-along choruses. Messily melodic and really stupid. I caught them once before and mistook singer Drew 's Australian accent for a Brit one. Shame on me. Just thought I'd take this opportunity to set the record straight, since many seem think it's fake.
Drew embodies the pissed-off prototype, often evoking John Lydon, which is more funny than stirring.
I flip between mildly amused and bored, though the ode to munching snatch does make me larf out loud.
During their set, someone in back shouts for them to get the fuck off. Quintessential! I'm glad folks appear to have abandoned the practice of throwing shit at the band, but you gotta have the assholes. Punk rock.
When the UK Subs take the stage, Charlie Harper and company blast into a set of energetic hardcore, oblivious, it seems, to the fact that the room isn't packed. Where, I wonder, are all the old punks? Grew up, wot? This is a band with minor legend status - they had a couple of critically recognized records right into the mid-90s.
Gotta say, Harper's one energetic dude, throwing himself full-on into the punk. The Subs have given up none of the noise factor in their live show, both to their credit and detriment.
They have some good hooks, and staying true to what you've always done deserves a certain amount of respect. Still, there's something silly about watching a man nearing his 60s shouting his lungs out to a bunch of slamming kids going through a rebellious phase. A certain amount of refinement preserves your dignity.
Almost 30 years into his career, Harper sports a T-shirt that reads, "Old Punks Never Die."
Deluded, but cute.