Written by Jesse Flores
Mar 11, 2004 at 08:00 PM
The Living EndOkay, fuck it. I didn’t want to say this out of respect for the other headlining bands, but hands down, The Living End (TLE), the opening band, stole the entire show.I had never heard of TLE up until I was told I was going to be reviewing their show with Jet and The Vines. I didn’t even bother to look them up or try and download anything. I just didn’t care. So, when they came out on stage, the singer looking like a punk version of Brian Setzer with his hollow-body Gretsch, and the bassist looking like a 1940’s jail-break with his black and white striped shirt and his checkered up-right bass (also black and white), I couldn’t help but think that I was about to sit through one of those inevitable shitty openers. Thank God I was wrong.

The three members of TLE rocked the stage like the Australian hillbilly punk rockers that they are. Whatever that means. They just plain rocked. It’s the best thing to be blown away by a band you’ve never heard before. Especially when you’re not expecting it. Singer and guitarist Chris Cheney plays with the likes of Billy Joe of Green Day and solo’s with the intensity of a Joe Perry lead (damn you if you don‘t know who Joe Perry is). And his vocals range from the likes of Bradley Nowell, of Sublime, and again, Billy Joe of Green Day. The bass lines from Scott Owen were so intricate and performed to perfection it’d make any aspiring bassist just go ahead and give up and not feel bad about being a quitter. Drummer Andy Strachan was completely on point, had great time, super-duper chops and knew when to play and when not to play. After looking at the bands web site and seeing Dave Grohl listed as one of his influences, I realized completely where his drum-style comes from (unlike that bastard drummer from Good Charlotte who apparently has multiple Dave Grohl shrines in his house and on their tour bus, but in reality plays nothing like Grohl, Strachan actually has a very similar style to Daves: hard hitting, fast and flawless).

When TLE first jumped on stage, I was a bit confused, a bit uninterested, and found myself asking why this and how come that. But when they were done, it all made sense. They were just there to rock. And they did.

Next up was Jet. They are such a blatant rip off of every band from The Beatles to Lynrd Skynrd to AC/DC, that it’s almost pointless to try and argue them an original band. And I think they know it. The best part is, they don’t care. If you’re one of those technical music listeners that won’t have anything to do with a band unless they are doing something completely original (we all know a few), then these guys aren’t for you and be glad you missed the show. I couldn’t tell whether or not they were playing their own songs or somebody else’s. But, that’s not what matters at a concert (originality only matters for the albums sake). All that matters at a concert is that they play loud, with enthusiasm, consume alcoholic-beverages, rock-out and play songs that people can sing along with. They did just that. Oh yeah, and they even scored some skin. At one point, singer and guitarist Nic Cester yelled out, “Thanks for the boobies!” as some chick up front flashed the band.

For me, the best part of the show was when they played the fourth track off of their debut album, “Get Born,” a very Lennon type track, titled “Look What You’ve Done.” Except it pissed me off that they played it acoustically instead of on piano. The album version sounds much better. Oh well, still sounded good. And of course, there was the sing-along to the single, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl,” which I could have done without.

As for The Vines, singer and guitarist, Craig Nicholls, was definitely, most assuredly, without a doubt, fucked up. He sang off-key at times, hit completely off notes on his guitar, screamed ridiculously, gained lots of hi-pitched feedback from his amp, and even seemed to be ad-libbing new lyrics to his songs. But it was great.

He rocked-out, threw his strat’ into the drums, drank whatever he was drinking, made weird gestures, flicked off some people, fell over, jumped off the drum riser, and continued to sing crazily and almost annoyingly. It was punk rock and fucked up. The band was far from flawless and sometimes barely together, but some-how, it worked. Not one of them looking a day over 18. The crowd sang-along and remained jumping and shouting amongst the beer-slicked floor. They played “Get-Free” and he screamed nonsense during the chorus. He didn’t care, at all. And neither did the crowd. It was just about having fun. Like it should be.