The year: 2009
The setting: A BBQ at our shared house in Manly.
The reason: why not?
We were knocking back a few cold ones. Nick had just smacked one over the fence; 6 and out. Everyone was happy. Tunes were pumping and good times were being had. This was the first time I heard Teenage Bottlerocket.
My mate Jake flicked open his CD wallet, pulled out a copy of Total, TBR’s second full length, and chucked it in the stereo. I was instantly hooked. It is, therefore, needless to say, that as soon as the Wyoming pop punk outfit announced a tour earlier this year, I was eager to attend.
I rocked up to the Bald Faced Stag on Saturday night moments after ebolagoldfish had concluded their set, much to my dismay. I blame bad traffic, and a particularly engaging episode of Kill La Kill for missing it. But having seen them in the past, I am sure they pleased the small, eager crowd.
Nerdlinger were up next. Before they started I knew I was in for a spectacle. Energy emanates from this quintessential 4 piece pop punk ensemble. They’ve been around the scene for a while now, and before the first note had even sprung from the strings of guitarist Daniel Antix, they had the complete respect of the crowd. Scotty McNairn was born for the stage, and his presence, combined with top-notch banter and hooky bass runs, held the engagement of all present as they jammed through hits, like 'Twenty Five' and crowd-favourite 'Hostages'. The highlight came in the form of new single 'The Ballad of Rod Lightning'; fast, catchy and, in classic Nerdlinger fashion, fun. The standard for the night was set high.
Having played with Batfoot! before I set my expectations high, and by god did they not disappoint. 40 minutes, about 76 songs, 10 Curly Wurly’s, 115 power stances and some classic crowd interactions later, the boys from Batfoot! left the stage. It didn’t feel like a full set. With the longest of their songs lasting 2 and a half minutes, and the shortest just 6 seconds, the crowd was stuck, eyes glued to the stage. Craig Hughes led the way with his classic low hanging Fender Bass and plethora of countenances that would make even Pennywise crawl down a drain and cry. Classic food-and-drink-themed tunes 'Dr. Pepper' and 'Gimme Back My Curly Wurly', kept the crowd pleased, before fast, punk anthems such as 'Suzy Is A Psychopath' and 'Ally Spazzy' rammed home the notion that Batfoot! were a band to keep an eye on. Two eyes as often as you can spare them. The Aussies had done their part, and made us proud, now it was time for the US boys to grace the stage.
From the outset, though, it was obvious Teenage Bottlerocket were not entirely up for the show. Ambling out to a clichéd-backing track, Ray Carlisle and co. looked more ready for bed than the stage. While their demeanor was lacking, they remained tight, and classic tracks 'Bloodbath At Burger King' and 'They Call Me Steve' had the crowd screaming along. 'In the Basement' and 'Skate or Die; held the attention of the somewhat smaller than expected crowd, but the energy was lacking. They couldn’t even remember the names of the bands that had supported them, and when mentioning how big a night they had had the night before, and the affect it had had on their aging bodies, it seemed as though Bottlerocket just wanted to be done. The only real highlight came when Ray dedicated a No Use For A Name track to his brother Brandon, who previously drummed for TBR before tragically passing away in 2015. This was the only time I saw any real passion in the set, and they nailed the cover, leaving the crowd more than a little teary-eyed. But all-in-all I left a little disappointed. The songs were catchy, the sound was tight, but I didn’t leave feeling like I wanted to stay.
Unless of course Nerdlinger or Batfoot! had agreed to play a few more tracks. Aussie Aussie Aussie. Oi Oi Oi.