As one of the few people I know to still not only purchase albums, but also buy them on CDs, it may come as a surprise for people to learn that I was actually an early adopter of MP3 players, being the proud owner of one of the early models – a stylishly shaped, no-name number – which connected to the computer via the printer port. I also downloaded a lot of MP3 songs in those days too. Most of them were the follow-up singles to radio tracks from bands I’d just heard of and kind of wanted to buy the CD, but couldn’t justify on the strength of one song. This lead me to some great albums… Liam Lynch’s Fake Songs, The New Radicals’ Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too, and the self-titled debut album by Wheatus, long with its follow-up Hand Over Your Loved Ones.
When I bring up these well-rounded, perfectly varied albums in conversation, it always ends with someone coming to the eventual realisation ‘Oh, you mean that band with that one song, right?’ It also means that it is unlikely I’ll be able to find someone to take to the show when the artists tour.
Nevertheless, when Wheatus announced a tour, I rushed to the Corner box office the moment the tickets went on sale.
Corner Hotel, September 19, 2012
I was surprised to see a queue around the block to get in. Despite this, once the doors had opened, no one was exactly bustling to get to the front of the stage for local support Masketta Fall. They played a good pop-punk style set, and seemed quite well-known and liked amongst the audience. A cover of the Killers’ Mr. Brightside was interesting, but didn’t have the dramatic highs and lows it seemed destined to. Their original tracks, particularly those based on a reggae-style beat, would have been enough to make it a good set without the cover, and show the band to be someone worth looking further into.
Touring support Nova & The Experience were also a pleasant surprise. I hadn’t heard of them before, but they sounded a little like Angus and Julia might if they ever team up with bis. The group took to the stage backed by a series of video clips aligned with their performance, but they already had my attention when I saw the stage set up with several guitars, multi-coloured effects pedals, and a piano. The band may well have overtaken High Side Driver in the running for the Support Act Of The Year award, particularly when they played a song called Mr 95 which could be commissioned as the theme song to the television version of my life, should such a production ever be created.
When Wheatus took to the stage, it was complete with keyboards, back-up chanteuses, and something aptly described by front-man Brendan B. Brown as ‘the bass instrument.’ He wore an MC Lars t-shirt – though the man himself was sadly absent as support on the Australian tour – and reignited the slowly mellowing applause by teasing with a couple of strains from Teenage Dirtbag, before announcing a request-based set that started with Truffles and filled the first half of the show with songs from the band’s self-titled debut record. It was reassuring to hear a variety of songs being called out other than the band’s hit, but there were some people – even at the front of the stage – asking how anyone knew all the words to the other songs.
Whilst it was great to have heard so many non-album favourites played live, it was clear that BBB knows that his band is remembered by most as a one-hit-wonder. A skilful cover of My Name Is Jonas was perhaps a play on the fact that anyone who brags to their commercial-radio loving friends about their Weezer ticket purchase is inevitably asked ‘You mean that band who played Teenage Dirtbag, right?’ Or maybe I’m reading too much into it, and they just played it because it is a great song.
A request for Punk Ass Bitch was sadly turned down on the grounds that ‘our bass player who we fired wrote that,’ and I wondered if that was perhaps the reason other classics like American In Amsterdam and The Song That I wrote When You Dissed Me were also absent. Nevertheless, pitch-perfect renditions of London Sun and Wannabe Gangster more than made up for it, and Fair Weather Friend gave the backup singers a chance to show off their own enviable talents. Even the uninitiated couldn’t resist but to jump around for BMX Bandits.
But it was clear that there was one song that everyone in the room wanted to hear, and it didn’t take long once Teenage Dirtbag started for most of the crowd to jump up on stage and re-enact the scenes from so many decades-old video clips and bounce around unhindered with the band. That experience in itself may have been well worth the cost of admission, let alone the bonus of shouting along to songs I didn’t think I’d get to hear live again without buying a ticket to New York City.
Originally published in Buzz Magazine.