The Carpettes, The Anarchitex, Bass Line Bums, Sober Daze Mango's August 19, 2011
Despite the "lost control" vibe of the club on a sweltering Friday down in the heart of Montrose, where broken water mains flooded every other corner with spooling brown miasmic water, The Carpettes hit American shores for the first time with their brand of blitzkrieg bop intact.
As elders, they did not wax pretentious. Instead, they were rootsy, generous, and visibly energized by a small, feverish crowd that swayed to the rather obscure band's taut fistfuls of high-energy pop-punk ala the The Drones, Eater, Vibrators, and 999.
Throughout the night, as innumerable bands hauled gear to the stage and pummeled the crowd with punk rock of all stripes, from the early Jawbreaker-style ruckus of Bass Line Bums to the barbed art-punk revelations of Anarchitex, The Carpettes looked relaxed despite enduring stifling hours of travel.
While younger bands might have been pent-up and ornery due to a double-billed evening and lack of promotion by the club, the Carpettes remained fluid, spontaneous, and easygoing, chatting about iconic British radio DJ John Peel with members of the MyDolls, escaping the autoclave heat, and waiting to seize the stage during the very last half-hour of the night.
The time slot, abbreviated set and the on-call drummer borrowed from Woodlands alt-rockers The Shadow didn't deter the The Carpettes in the least. Yes, they had to lop off whole sections of their set list, including old stalwarts like "Johnny Won't Hurt You" and newer gems like "Black White Wrong Rite," but their set, by all means, did not lack sustained nerviness and amped-up adrenaline.
Seething with tunes like "Frustration Paradise" and their most-recognized slice of Jubilee-era history, "Radio Wunderbar," they proved that age is a state of mind. They were just as urgent in the dank, graffiti-adorned club as they proved to be in the heady days of The Clash and Sex Pistols, when the world witnessed England clutch a whole bunch of rock and roll rejects and springboard them to the world with three chords and homegrown truth.
The Carpettes didn't offer a shrink-wrapped version of themselves or a play-by-numbers set they could have phoned in from their motel. They really did embody their music with pitched enthusiasm during the set, ridiculously brief, considering they flew in from abroad only to find themselves joining a stew of youthful bands streaming in from Austin and Baytown.
Their drummer, whom they only met ten hours earlier, proved rock-solid, cool and calm, and punctuated every song with ease as the band offered up succinct slabs like "Small Wonder," dedicated to their former label, which also helped carve the careers of The Cure and Cockney Rejects.
Plus, making sure that their fans wouldn't leave heartbroken as the 2 a.m. hour cruelly loomed, the band sprinkled their set with a few magnetic covers. Soliciting the wholehearted participation of the crowd, who seemed downright giddy, The Carpettes spun an "unplugged" version of The Ramones "I Wanna Be Sedated" like a tender, offhand thank-you note from the band to the American forefathers of punk.
Showing off a bit of British history as well, they wrapped up with a humming version of "Silly Thing," an under-the-radar Sex Pistols song snagged from 1979, sung in the past by Steve Jones and Paul Cook.
The other bands performed with grizzly gusto and pithy panache as well. Sober Daze, an eight-year-old punk trio originally from Puerto Rico, offered up sizzling, tuneful melodic hardcore that was well-greased and spot-on.
The Bass Line Bums, not to be outdone, ended with a raucous version of Isley Brothers' soul standard "Shout," replete with Animal House style revelry. Luckily, they avoided mere gimmickry and really celebrated punk's mixed-up multicultural roots with feverish results.
Still, the Carpettes owned the night in the end, unifying the eras and styles, proving that first generation punk never fizzled or sputtered out. It continues, abated by a few "lifers" like The Vibrators and UK Subs.
These bands willingly serve as surrogate old-school parents for fans hungry for punk's prickly pop perfection, its rhetoric teeming with short sharp suss, and its 45-rpm leanings, in which two-minute platters can feel as momentous as a James Joyce book or a pouncing jackhammer.
Personal Bias: The serenade of the Ramones' song, which tilted the crowd fully in their favor.
The Crowd: A small pond of enthused older hipsters torn from the memory of The Island and The Axiom, and a smattering of kids crooning in singalong style.
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Overseen In the Crowd: Local vacationers that had begun that morning in Colorado, a guitarist hell-bent on blaming Obama for the gas prices, and The Drafted from Baytown, who wrapped their demo CDs in brown lunch bags - DIY to the core.
Random Notebook Dump: A seedy kid stole a drink from Trish of the MyDolls, fresh off the bar, and gulped it deep down only to realize it was water with a dollop of lime.