Sunday, May 25, 2014

Concert Review: The Avengers and Kicker

Concert Review: The Avengers, Kicker and Backseat Lovers

    Punks may get old, but they will always be rebellious and enthusiastic about the music they enjoy. San Francisco based pioneer punk rockers the Avengers, and East Bay hardcore veterans Kicker, showed they are not slowing down when it comes to playing live.
    After performing the night before in SF, the Avengers and Kicker took their show to San Jose’s Blank Club. This was my first time seeing a show at Blank Club, and I must say, it was a suitable venue for the type of show. My only complaint is that the Blank Club happens to be one of these twenty-one and up venues that prevent the younger fans from attending. I definitely think the crowd vibe would have been more electrifying, but the bands that played of course still brought plenty of high powered energy.
    The first opening act was a young punk rock group from Sacramento, CA called, Backseat Lovers. They stayed true to the classic formula with very simple driving rhythms and the common punk songwriting style. Their lead singer was very energetic, but she seemed sloppy at times with her delivery. She had a powerful voice and a good range, but again, there were times where I felt that she was not very consistent. Backseat Lovers’ rhythm section was solid and I think the drummer did an efficient job holding down the beat. Their guitarist was also very talented and he could play some creative leads. Now, my biggest complaint about their set was the frivolous in between song stage banter. The bassist and singer thought they were Sonny and Cher or a couple of SNL comedians. Compared to Kicker and the Avengers, one could tell Backseat Lovers was the younger band who needs to continue working on their live presentation.
    Now, the main reason I went to this show was to see Kicker. I do enjoy the Avengers don’t get me wrong, but Kicker is one of my favorite punk bands. I saw Kicker play at the Tankcrimes Brainsqueeze 2, and was eager to see them again. Singer Pete the Roadie is a real cool down to earth guy who I had the chance to talk with before the show. He is a veteran who embodies the spirit of punk rock and Mr. Roadie is very connected to the music community that he has been apart of for many years. Once the band took the stage I rushed to the front and began head banging to the opening instrumental song. When the instrumental finished Pete took to the stage and delivered his vicious hardcore punk style during the song, “You Can’t Take Me Anywhere.” Bassist Dave Ed showed off his talents by doing wicked bass fills that stood out during each song. His little bass riff during “Crusty Island” provided the perfect background sound for Roadie’s goofy change begging rant. Sure enough someone actually threw change on stage! Of course guitarist Mauz was on top of his game by unleashing tons of crushing riffs. His guitar tone is unmistakable and definitely separates him from the other hardcore guitarists I have heard. Also, drummer Toby Bitter was destroying behind the kit and gives Kicker’s sound a huge kick in the pants. Throughout their whole set I was singing along and rocking out. For some odd reason, I was practically the only person at the front of the stage. I thought this was a punk show!? Besides a drunk couple dancing in the middle, most of the people were standing in the back with their arms folded. Kicker put on one spectacular show and I wish more people would have shown some appreciation for this hard working band by being closer to the stage. 
    About the time the Avengers took the stage more people started showing up. You really had an eclectic mix of people, some who were already three sheets to the wind. The Avengers haven’t been active for a while, so people who listened to them back in the day were probably glad to have a chance to see them again. Lead singer Penelope Houston is a tremendous performer with a great voice. She reminds me of a mix between Wendy O. Williams and Debbie Harry. The band sounded tight and played an enjoyable set. The guitarist sounded amazing as he banged away on his shiny red SG. Towards the end of their set they did this cool cover of The Rolling Stones, “Paint it Black.” Shortly after they closed with my favorite Avenger’s song, “The American In Me.” 
    Overall this was an awesome show that I am glad to have attended. I think if the Blank Club wasn’t twenty-one and up, the crowd would have been more enthusiastic. Still, the veteran punk performers allowed everyone the chance to have a good time. If you have not attended a Kicker or the Avengers show, I highly recommending doing it. Just make sure to be close to the stage or you won’t get the same experience!

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