"Pennywise are beloved in a way few are."
Unexpected Aussie band are unexpectedly good. Why are we not surprised? Novocastrians Local Resident Failure more than hold their own under the weight of anticipation for the big-ticket internationals. The tunes are fast, punchy, and Michael 'Dal' Dallinger's nasal vocal tone all but preps our ears for the shape of punk to come.
Moving forward, it's coast-to-coast US flavours with east leading west. Pennsylvania's Anti-Flag arrive flat, but quickly turn on the screws with Fabled World. From there, it's pretty much impossible to fault them. Every track has some sort of novel performance element which makes it instantly memorable - from bassist Chris Barker howling into a stand-stable megaphone (Sky Is Falling), to venue-wide peace signs (The Press Corpse), one-two-three-four rally cries (All Of The Poison, All Of The Pain) and the rhythm section playing out the set from the centre of pit, kick drum and all (You've Gotta Die For The Government). A wide-eyed version of Clash classic Should I Stay Or Should I Go does the quartet no harm either.
The ridiculous amount of adorned merch. The stubby coolers sitting snug around gripped bottles. The band insignia tattoos on every shirtless bloke jonesing for a thrash-around. Pennywise are beloved in a way few are, and as they emerge to celebrate 20 years of seminal album About Time, the roar of approval which greets them is deafening. And knowing the clock is well and truly ticking on this occasion, So-Cal's favourite sons rip through the release with reckless glee.
As a standalone song, Peaceful Day is an absolute beast. As a live opener, it's almost unrivalled. Favourites like Perfect People, Every Single Day and Same Old Story also slay, but hearing less frequently played tracks like It's What You Do With It and Killing Time is what makes tonight magic for one-eyed fans. And sure, Jim Lindberg checks his lyric sheets on more than one occasion, but with a packed house at full voice, there's never an awkward moment. About Time was a gateway album for plenty of impressionable youths back in the mid-'90s, and two decades on, the gratitude is enormous.
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Promotion of the four-piece also playing large chunks of last year's Yesterdays doesn't equate to much. Instead, the guys give the devoted what they crave - ripping out a half-hour stanza of absolute gold, ranging from covers of Bad Religion (Do What You Want) and Men At Work (Down Under), to staples like Society and Fuck Authority. In keeping trend with an evening full of anthems, Hermosa's finest then stick a Bro Hymn-sized exclamation mark on the end of proceedings, with our throats laid to waste as we all roar in celebration and tribute.