January 13, 2020 | By Alaina Pierce

Big Bear, boards, and Bro Hymn… it’s pretty much the perfect recipe for a legit punk show in January. For over twenty-five years, So. Cal. punk rock enthusiasts have been moshing to the melodic hardcore sounds of PennywiseLast Friday night at The Cave in Big Bear proved to be no exception. 

(Bro Hymn from Self-Titled Debut Album)

With a whopping twelve studio albums under their belt, and their 2018 album (Never Gonna Die) gaining momentum, it’s no wonder Pennywise had to add a second night of mayhem! 

As long as the band continues to create new material in line with the fundamental rhythms, arousing anthems, messages of positive mental attitudes and hard hitting political jargon they’ve consistently written for the last three decades; a gain in fans can be expected as well.  In fact, as I looked around the venue it was clear their fan-base has expanded to a multi-generational cartoon-crazy following.

No matter where on the planet you call home, Punk rock and snowboarding culture go together like peanut butter and jelly. What better way for Pennywise to kick-off touring in 2020 than playing at The Cave in Big Bear. It’s the perfect venue for a punk show because the stage is set high, and the floor is tiered with three levels for viewing… I mean moshing.

With middle fingers raised high, angsty chanting swelled around 9:30 pm as Bryon McMackin took his seat at the drums. Fletcher Dragge and Randy Bradbury grabbed their instruments behind monstrous amps, which was my cue to brace myself against the stage with my camera before the inevitable violent shoving behind me. Singer Jim Linberg opened the set by charging the front of the stage. The energy was explosive and spread like wildfire through the crowd. I didn’t last 20 seconds. The entire lower level immediately burst into moshing, and I took a swift (unintentional, of course) punch to the back of my head. Obviously cameras and moshing don’t mix, so I beelined out of there.

(Jim Lindberg at The Cave) 

Pennywise never lost its steam on stage, as punk veterans and newcomers (even two years old) were treated to an arsenal of fan favorites such as Pennywise, Society, Alien, and F*** Authority, Victim of Reality and new favorite, She Said.

Fletcher Dragge played solid and his interaction with the audience was notoriously entertaining. Over the last year or so, I’ve seen bands welcome Randy Bradbury on stage as a special guest effortlessly playing with them all, but Pennywise is his sweet spot. I don’t know how Bryon McMackin didn’t pass out, but he never missed a beat, and Jim Linberg melodic punk rock vocals drove it home!

(Fuck Authority from the album titled, Land of the Free?)

Though cold outside, this sold out show packed heat with wall to wall fist pumping, crowd surfing, and unified head banging, ending the night with a compulsory sing along to Bro Hymn. As expected, devout fans rushed the stage and were welcomed with open arms. Linberg briefly stopped the song halfway through due to overcrowding, but quickly resumed. The emotion expressed by fan singing along was telling; these songs written by Pennywise continue to hold relevance.

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