Thursday, April 28, 2011
TEENAGE BOTTLEROCKET RUIN EMILY'S OPEN MIC NIGHT
I was just getting ready to leave work and grab the train to Shepherd's Bush when I got the call. "The show's been cancelled". My heart sunk. A quick double check online confirmed the worst. Descendents frontman Milo Aukerman's voice was fucked. He couldn't make the show. And at the last minute, the band decided to cancel. Then I heard that support band Teenage Bottlerocket (who I wanted to see more anyway) had put together a last minute free show at the New Cross Inn - "I'm trapped in a glass of emotion!"
An hour later, New Cross Inn was a pretty surreal place to be. It was Open Mic Tuesday. A free night for amateur musos to test the water. Build some self-confidence. Or just get drunk and wing it. Only this particular Tuesday, the place was packed with early bird punk rockers. One guy I spoke to had been on a bus for 15 hours from Northern Ireland - he was a Descendents fan.
After the first band, "Emily" got on stage and sung an a capella version of Mariah Carey's "Hero" to a cheering mob of mohawks and leather jackets in the front row, while members of Teenage Bottlerocket walked around nonchalant. It was so Fat Wreck. Like Me First and the Gimme Gimmes Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah. Classic.
Just after nine, Bottlerocket were on stage blasting their way through "Skate or Die". The crowd went nuts, carrying stagedivers and digging its heels in from the first few chords. There was no way through the madness. I couldn't believe it. To me, these guys are celebrities. And here they are, rocking a stage smaller than my bath towel.
Drummer Brandon Carlisle is a master of the fast hi-hat. Watching him, his arm doesn't even seem to move - it's all in the wrist. Meanwhile, twin brother Ray and Kody Templeman take turns on lead vocals, swapping sides, pretty much, after every song. I couldn't get over how thick Ray's neck is. But watching him rock out, you understand why - this guy's a professional headbanger...
At some point, someone in the front shouts for "All I Hear Is Static!", a classic by Kody's previous band The Lillingtons. Really, he took the words right out of my mouth, but Kody replies, "I don't know what that is". Fair enough... TBR played new single "Mutilate Me" instead and it sounded great. They did play "I Saw the Ape Man (On the Moon)" though...
Staring at the crowd during TBR's you-better-play-or-they're-going-to-riot encore, I couldn't get over the amount of love in the room. Everyone was singing along, hands on their hearts, begging for more. And really, I was glad Descendents cancelled. I'd take this small time personal pub show over First Floor Standing at Shepherd's Bush any day. Still, I bet Northern Ireland Dude doesn't feel the same...
Here's Teenage Bottlerocket playing "Black Hole In My Mind" in Milan.