It was punk night recently at Union Transfer, and BRP was there to check it out. Headlining was Royal Headache, an outfit from Australia. I can’t remember how I discovered them – Sound Opinions maybe? – but they are part of my recent trilogy of regal bands: King Tuff, Royal Blood and Royal Headache.
Two other bands also played as opening acts for RH. First up was Dark Thoughts, a trio who did a pretty good job of harvesting the good stuff from past punk acts. We were all pretty impressed with them. I think that they could use a better singer, but their energy was tremendous, and they were tight, professional and focused. And any punk act who perform with the lead guy wearing a Buzzcocks t-shirt (other than Del Mar, of course) is ok by me. DT played about 20 minutes and then ceded the stage. I thought about taking pictures, but didn’t because, frankly, while interesting, they weren’t compelling enough for me to leave my spot.
Next up was Pissed Jeans, who are pictured above. With a name like that, you know that they are not seeking commercial acceptance and fame. These guys are local, as they originally hail from Allentown, and now live in Philly. They were very interesting to watch. The lead singer, Matt Korvette, bounded onto the stage without a shirt (bad look) and was all over the place. The lead guitarist, Brad Fry, likes feedback quite a bit – in fact, it was the filler between every song, which gets old after, say, the first time you live through it.
There were people in the crowd who came just to see PJ. I’m not sure why – their songs were ok, but I think that the band members will shortly be pursuing day jobs. Rock needs bands like Pissed Jeans who explore less commercially-viable sounds and who push the limits. But those bands are ultimately going to hit a wall of frustration and break up. PJ is destined to do just that.
On the fun side, I was hoping that they would “walk the walk,” be very punk, and end the show by pissing their own jeans, but no such luck. Instead, Fry, the guitarist, ended it by throwing his axe about 10 or 15 feet toward the crowd. It hit one of the monitor speakers at the front of the stage and stopped, but what was he thinking? Reminds me of that John Hiatt song “Perfectly Good Guitar,” which rails against rock stars destroying their instruments. The only problem with that analogy is that Pissed Jeans are not rock stars. I took some pics of Pissed Jeans.
To end the night, the headliner came out. Royal Headache tore through a number of songs familiar to me, including some at an accelerated speed. And while they were rehearsed, there were some amateurish moments, including the famous “what song are we playing next?” thing. Guys, that’s why you bring your playlist on stage with you. Oh yeah, they did do that, and still couldn’t figure out what to play next. Whatever.
The band was tight, and had a unique element for a punk band: a female keyboard player named Gabrielle de Giorgio. She was stage right and up front, just like Josie and the Pussycats. The lead guitarist, Law Hall, decided to dress up – not. He played in gym shorts. And the lead singer, Tim “Shogun” Walls, peeled off his shirt to show off his Down Under physique, complete with shiny sweat. Nice. But the weirdest thing was the show’s ending. About 40 minutes into their set, they all seemed to be discussing what to play next, and then Shogun said he wasn’t going to play that. So they all put down their instruments and left the stage. And then the house lights went up.
Really? Here you are with your chance to build an audience in the US, you’ve traveled from the most remote habited continent, and you blow off the crowd after 40 minutes? Hey, I was a Royal Headache fan, but this pissed me off enough to bad mouth the group. Glad it was only $15. But then again, I was at live music, having fun, checking out three new bands, and still able to get back home in time to get enough shut eye to satisfy The Man on Friday.
No more live music for the kid until next weekend when Tom Petty re-rolls back into town. That will be quickly followed by Coldplay. And like I said earlier, late August and early September are going to be gangbusters. You’ll need to get rested to keep up with all the goings-on here at BRP! So take some Sominex and come back real soon. Hang loose.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.