Metropolis, Fremantle, Western Australia
October 1st, 2015
Supports: Anti-Flag, Blindspot
Walking into Fremantle’s multi-tiered Metropolis you could be forgiven to thinking this was actually another state in Australia. Wasn’t Perth meant to be dead to punk? Haven’t we been told that punk doesn’t deliver a crowd in Perth? Fuck that!…punk is not dead in WA! Whilst others would love to have the Perth public think otherwise, the heaving sardine-like mass crammed into every nook and cranny within the Metropolis confines was a sight to behold.
Headline act, Pennywise, touring to play an album in its entirety for the first time in their careers, the legendary About Time album, always attract the punk within us Sandgropers (West Aussies). Their catchy melodic punk rock goodness has been serving up delicious riffs and sing-a-long choruses for the best part of three decades now. Joining them, the anti-government, anti-war activists, Anti-Flag from Pennsylvania.
However first up for the evening were local band, Blindspot. With a couple of EP’s and a full length studio album under their arms including the tight little package, You’re So Phoney EP from earlier this year, Blindspot have been a staple of the Perth punk scene for a few years now. The crowd now building rapidly it didn’t take long for these locals to quickly set the scene with some frantic punk rock coupled with humorous lyrics and that local banter that shines on stage for this band. If you’re into punks that don’t take themselves too seriously and with an ear for catchy riffs and choruses, give the guys alike of their Facebook page and buy some cheap merch, you won’t be disappointed.
Enter Anti-Flag, the Pittsburgh quartet who released album number ten, the brilliant, American Spring, earlier this year. Undoubtedly on of the most underrated bands in this country, it seems their music has been overlooked by the majority of punk lovers down under in terms of overall sales. Hopefully this tour can change that opinion, as these guys deserve to be huge, even this far into their career. Think Rise Against with a bit of Bad Religion and a touch of Rancid minus the ska and you have Anti-Flag. Melodic, yes, but with the fervour and disdain of punk of the ‘70s.
Justin Sane and Chris Dos battle for lead vocals, constantly running across the stage, back and forth, revving the crowd up at every opportunity. Anti-Flag didn’t waste any time either, smashing into ‘Fuck Police Brutality’, middle fingers firmly raised in spiteful rage, the crowd reverting to ‘angry pit mode’ with bodies all of a sudden flying at every humanely possible angle. ‘Broken Bones’, ‘Brandenburg Gate’, and new single, ‘All of the Poison, All of the Pain’, garnering most of the vocal support from a crowd which was devouring all that Anti-Flag could give. Chris Dos’ call to arms of the crowd, spouting dissent to anything the majority supported, against greed, against government, against vile politicians, the audience revelling in the punk family ethos.
The Clash’s, iconic track, ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ was covered albeit in a vastly more hyped up, double barrel shotgun approach, the feverish approach kicking the track firmly into 2015. Culminating in ‘Die For the Government’, including a bizarre ending as drummer, the sarcastically named, Pat Thetic headed into the mosh pit, drum kit and all along with Chris Dos and guitar, much to the delight of the dispersing crowd. Quite the mission for a 30 second concluding chorus but nonetheless eagerly lapped up. What a set, and hopefully these guys return soon to our shores.
By the time Californian stalwarts Pennywise took to the stage, the crowd were already in a sweaty sess pool but this pit was not to be dismantled, with a new found renewed energy source by the time the first strings of ‘Peaceful Day’ hit the speakers. Kind of like a Daniel Chick ½ time asthma kick….but that’s another story. (Afl joke). ‘Waste of Time’, ‘Perfect People’, Pennywise were in manic mode, vocalist Jim Lindberg leaning into the crowd, mike in hand to ignite the crowd further, fuelling epic sing-a-longs to a much loved Pennywise album. Fletcher Dragge, more widely known as just ‘Fletch’ commanded the stage, his towering presence an all-encompassing figure, as he sucked down Corona’s between tracks, maintaining those killer riffs that continue to excite fans many years on. Briefly greeting the Fremantle/Perth folk, after a less than average attempt at an Aussie accent by Lindberg, Pennywise plunged further into the album About Time at breakneck speed. ‘Freebase’ and ‘Try’ were both blistering before ‘Same Old Story’ had the crowd in full karaoke, word for word singing one of the staples of the Pennywise repertoire for the last two decades.
As the finals chords of ‘Killing Time’ concluded the About Time run through, Pennywise ripped into a brief ‘best-of’ mini collection. The self-titled ‘Pennywise’ and ‘Society’ producing on the biggest audience participation including a handful of brave souls who decided to jump from the 2nd tier into the mosh pit below. Lindberg’s facial expression one of concern mid-song, but like a true performer, he didn’t miss a beat and nor did the pit below gleefully catching our jumpers without incident.
Of course we all know Pennywise love a cover song or two and the band didn’t disappoint with three diverse tracks, Bad Religion’s, ‘Do What You Want’, Men At Work’s Australian anthem, ‘Down Under’ and the legendary, ‘Stand By Me’, performed for the first time this tour. Lindberg handing the microphone duties to the crowd for the first half the latter track before blasting into the sped up version of the classic as Pennywise do what they do best – play fast. Concluding with the inevitable, Bro Hymn’, complete with Anti-Flag members and road crew for backing vocal duties, the crowd completed its task, the sing-a-long likely heard all the way down the cappuccino strip in Fremantle all the way back to the old Fremantle Prison and beyond. The raucous ‘whoaaa whoaaaa’ continuing outside long after Pennywise had left the building.
Waste of Time
Every Single Day
Not Far Away
It’s What You Do With It
Same Old Story
I Won’t Have It
Do What You Want (Bad Religion cover)
Violence Never Ending
Down Under (Men at Work cover)
Stand by Me (Ben E. King cover)
Another round next year? We can only hope….