When the Australian punk community has bands it feels are one of their own. They embrace them, the gather around them, the exalt them and California’s Pennywise are one of them.
Twenty years ago Pennywise had the most successful Australian release album to date with Straight Ahead, hitting number eight in the charts when people actually use to buy records. It placed them at the front of the Californian punk scene where they have stayed ever since. Tonight, as they bring their Australian tour to its penultimate stop, they celebrate that release in its full knife edge glory.
Just before Pennywise hit the stage, Strung Out have everyone revved up, bassist Chris Aiken bouncing around the stage as vocalist Jason Cruz screams to Bring Out Your Dead.
As the rooms heats up, Strung Out don’t let the energy drop, laying tracks such as Firecracker and Matchbook down to a excited and fuelled-on-kerosene audience
Pennywise are the big dogs here and they waste no time bringing the old school hardcore punk to the fire. With VIP guests flanking the band, the vibe is to bring back the days we all had thinner waistlines, more hair, less of a care and enjoy yourselves.
The Straight Ahead album is played as is; seventeen tracks that run through the crowd like lit gasoline. By Can’t Believe It the pits are in full swing and I’ve already seen the same crowd surfer three times lose both of his shoes.
The audience chant back throughout the set and off the pit goes again when that stop start riff in Might Be A Dream ignites.
My Own Way, One Voice and Alien have the floor swaying like an ocean, wave upon wave of punks crashing against security then coming back for more.
After the album tracks have been played it’s onto the specials which include THAT cover of Men At Work Down Under, confirming why this band is so revered on the land girt by sea.
The VIP storm the stage for Bro Hymn and Valentines day in Adelaide comes to a end with a lot of sweaty, tired punks who all feel they made the right decision to leave their partners and come to this show. The consequences they will deal with tomorrow, for now though, it is about forging Straight Ahead with Pennywise at the wheel.
Live Review By Iain McCallum