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Sunday, 13 June 2010

Wheatus/MC Frontalot – ABC2 (Glasgow) 12/6/10

It's a Saturday night and I'm weighing up my options.
I could watch England play the USA in the world cup or kill some brain cells by soaking up the latest instalment of Big Brother.
Is this really what life has come to?
Then again, instead of sitting about cultivating a repetitive strain injury with the televisions remote control I could have a look about and see what entertainment Glasgow can throw up instead.
There's plenty on, but nothing much catches my attention until I see that Wheatus are doing a tenth anniversary show in the ABC2.
I've never seen them before so I'm not really sure what to expect.
When they were riding the crest of the MTV wave with Teenage Dirtbag I was suitably impressed with their début, even though I was a tad confused as to why they were being lumped in with pop punk bands like Blink 182's and their ilk.
To my ears they sounded nothing like them.
Personally I would have put them somewhere between the eccentric sound of PUSA and the summery power pop of Fountains of Wayne.
Intelligent pop music with a hard edge and a sense of humour.
So anyway here we are ten years later and I'm find myself about to break my Wheatus cherry.
I know nothing of Suck Fony or the recent Too Soon Monsoon, but I'm willing to take a chance and see if they can live up to their reputation as being a great live band.

It's a bit strange in the ABC tonight though. It seems like they are determined to wrong foot me at every turn.
I've never paid a booking fee for any of the gigs they have had on, but tonight it's an extra two quid over the ticket price because I'm paying on the door.
Then there was the hanging about. I've always made the effort to turn up for the doors opening as the support bands are normally punted on very early.
If you are at the back of the line outside it's actually possible to miss half of the first bands set.
Not tonight though.
From the doors opening to MC Frontalot coming on it's an arse numbing hour and a half.
This only served to suck the enthusiasm out of the venue.
Well it did for me.
It was about the third song into his set before I could relax and get into his nerdcore hip hop.
No I didn't make that up. That's his thing.
He has a studious nerd/geek look going on and his raps are humorous digs at everything from strangely enough Margaret Thatcher to internet porn.
Although it's all very clever it's not really my thing, but I can see the appeal and appreciate what he is doing.
It's to his credit that he has some very vocal fans who have turned up to lend their support.
He works damn hard for it.
For me it was only when Wheatus joined him on stage that his set picked up and I got something out of it. The jump from using a backing track to having a live band made a world of a difference, and if the set had started this way I'm sure I would have been more impressed.
Wheatus themselves are an exceptionally good backing band though and use playing with MC Frontalot to effortlessly ease into their own set.
It's a nice touch. There are absolutely no signs of any prima donna antics with the band lording it over the support.
In fact there's a strong communal feeling from everyone on stage that spreads from the band through the crowd. There's no set list and they are happy to take requests and just let the gig flow.
I'm most definitely in the minority when it comes to the material.
Anything that isn't from the début is completely new to me, but it's all of a very high standard.
The gig doesn't ebb and flow, but remains at a constant high throughout.
Each member of the band is an outrageously talented musician and they all shine in their own way.
Sometime I feel that those who are supremely talented on an instrument want you to know it and can fall into the trap of taking themselves too seriously, but none of that attitude is on show from Wheatus who are happy to entertain the crowd and feed off their enthusiasm.
Midway through their set I was thinking that they are deserving of playing to a much larger audience, but the material and the camaraderie between band and audience could be lost if they were to jump up to bigger venues.
A club sized venue is probably the place where they really excel.
The penultimate song was the bands big hit Teenage Dirtbag and like any band who have to drag a singular hit about with them they must be bored with it.
So instead of a straight take we got MC Frontalot joining the band and adding a rap bridge. It worked really well and I doubt anyone was disappointed that they didn't the note by note original.
From the start of their set to the end it was all hugely entertaining and I suppose the best thing you can say about a band is that you wouldn't miss them if they returned to a venue near you and that's how I'm going to end this.
I hope it's not too long till they return as they have a spiritual home in Glasgow that will always welcome them with open arms.

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