You know you're a fan of a band when one of the members can take a mid-set break to use the rest room and it doesn't bother you. Such was the case when Teenage Bottlerocket played the Record Bar on Friday night.
However, considering Ray cut his finger and bled all over the fretboard, and the show kept going, you'd be willing to cut the band a little slack, too. Hell, the band cranked out all 19 songs on the setlist, along with a spot-on cover of Poison's "Talk Dirty to Me," along with their own "So Cool" as an encore.
The two halves of the set (pre- and post-Kody bathroom break) both started out with a string of songs that was just unbeatable. "Skate or Die" into "Radio" into "Bigger than KISS"? "Bottlerocket" into "Welcome to the Nuthouse" into "She's Not the One" into "Bloodbath at Burger King"? Yes, yes, yes -- more please -- yes. Ray's bouncing all over the stage like his shoes are tricked out with pogo sticks, with Kody and Miguel on either side of him knocking out bass lines and guitar riffs like sentinels of pop-punk, while Brandon pounds the skins and calls out the "1234!"s.
Yes, the music Teenage Bottlerocket plays isn't exactly going to win any awards for new, creative ways to write songs. Considering the majority of the words to "She's Not the One" are, in fact, "she's not the one" sung with a variety of different emphases, you oughtn't be surprised that you could probably learn the words to most Teenage Bottlerocket songs halfway through their performance of them. They're just so damned catchy, though. I'm a sucker for whoa-ohs and the like, and the guys in Teenage Bottlerocket have pretty much become the forerunners of the new pop-punk vanguard because they know how to make songs that use those catchy lyrics and whoa-ohs to their full advantage.
Cobra Skulls came through town a couple months back with the Copyrights and played the Riot Room. I missed that, and after seeing Cobra Skulls Friday night, I now regret that more than I had before.
Virgil over at Suburban Home came up with this equation to describe their sound: (Against Me + Agent Orange) x Adolescents = Cobra Skulls. It's pretty accurate, but there's a little reggae and Ennio Morricone in there, too. The way "Cobra Skullifornia" kicks off, with the spaghetti western turning into surf rock, pounding drums underlying it all, then roaring into Clash punk rock? Brilliant, kids.
The fact that they can go from full-bore fast-as-fuck punk into the jazzy interlude on "Ode to Jefferson" is all the more impressive when you consider that, as a three-piece, the Cobra Skulls were able to get more musically diverse than the four and five piece bands that played after and before them.
Kansas City's Fists Up! opened, replacing the original openers Hipshot Killer and Deadman's Hand. Starting with "Empty Bottles," the band got off to a strong start. They were energetic, playing a pop-punk melange that falls somewhere between early Blink-182 and current bands like the Copyrights and the Dopamines. There were a few issues during their set -- some sloppy messed up lyrics, a broken guitar string, lost drum stick -- but the band didn't let it phase them. That's the key to a good punk rock show, I think: fucking up, and carrying on with a winking acknowledgment, but not allowing it to ruin the set.
I didn't get to sleep for an hour after making the drive back home to Lawrence from KC. This show was stacked top to bottom with fun. I'd almost stayed home, not wanting to make the drive or deal with having to stand for three or four hours, but in the end, getting behind the wheel of my car and making the trek to KC was the best choice I've made in a while.