Concert review by Christina Preiss
When I arrived at the House of Blues in San Diego on that Wednesday night, I wasn’t even really sure that a show was actually going to happen. However, I asked security and they said the doors were already open. When I got downstairs there were only 3 people there. It felt so strange that I was about to see one of my favorite bands in this space. The last time I saw Face to Face here about a year before, the place was completely sold out. Granted it was a weekend, but I figured that this place had to fill in pretty quick.
As I wandered around the venue trying to decide what to do with myself, I spotted an intriguing looking young gentleman sitting on the stairs leading up to the bar. I noticed that he had a Teenage Bottle Rocket skull & swords emblem tattooed on his arm, so I decided to sit down next to him and have a chat about the upcoming show.
I learned that his name was Izzy and he was a 25-year-old Native American man that took care of the elderly for a living. His favorite band in the world was Teenage Bottle Rocket and all of the band’s members knew him by name. In spite of us being at a concert venue, we had a deep conversation about the wasted youth of today and what the people that he cared for had to endure when they were our age. We spoke of the wars and poverty they went through and how the youth of today loses their minds when they don’t get cell reception. Today’s kids are busy playing video games, instead of playing games outside with other neighborhood kids. My conversation with Izzy gave me a lot to reflect upon.
As we were finishing our talk, the first band, Blacklist Royals, took the stage. There were only a dozen people there, but they were very enthusiastic, even though they kept their distance from the stage. However, There was a guy all by himself in the front row against the rail. He had a yellow t-shirt on that said, Teenage Bottle Rocket. As soon as the Blacklist Royals announced that Teenage Bottle Rockets were up next, the guy spun around and flashed them a giant smile with 2 enthusiastic thumbs up. It cracked me up.
The Blacklist Royals had an amazing sense of style and musically held their own in regards to the bands that they were opening for. They put their heart and soul into their set and played as if it was a packed house.
The crowd filled in as Teenage Bottle Rocket was about to take the stage and went completely nuts as soon as the venue went dark. The show started with their hype man, a guy in a green skull mask wielding a fake chainsaw, who came running onto the stage with a sign that instructed the crowd to “FREAK OUT!” Right after that, I realized that the lead singer and drummer were identical twins. Not sure how I missed that the first time I saw them! I really loved the enthusiasm of the drummer and the way he interacted with his brother.
Teenage Bottle Rocket was great at always engaging the crowd and having them participate. The entire front half of the crowd was singing along to every word. It seemed like half the people were there just for Teenage Bottle Rocket. Definitely different from the Sold Out Face to Face show I saw there last year. This time around the mosh pit was more of a dance floor with people jumping up and down. It looked like some of the fans couldn’t pogo high enough; they were straining their necks and using the shoulders of the people in front of them to try to get just a little higher. The hype man returned, this time clapping his hands and keeping the crowd going. Everyone in the crowd was cool and friendly. I didn’t see any stupid fights or belligerent drunks. The atmosphere was more like a party with a big group of friends.
My favorite song they did was the Ramone’s cover, “Blitzkrieg Bop.” The guys were playfully shaking their asses and doing pelvic thrusts, as well as playing their guitars behind their heads. They are a band that is clearly more interested in having fun than being “cool”. Before the song ended, the guys were pretending to shoot the audience members with their guitars and the fans were going crazy. Then the singer announced that the next song was about working at Burger King. He blew a snot rocket out of his nose and jumped in the air to give the bass player a high-five. Just before the last song the singer asked if anyone knew of “No Use For A Name” and said that they were going to play a song in honor of Tony Sly. It was the first time I saw hardcore moshing instead of people jumping up and down
Nearing the end of the set, they played a 30 second song called Pogo Party and people were bouncing around all over the place. The last song was “Freak Out” and it was really short. Teenage Bottle Rocket made me forget I was at a Face to Face. It seemed like they were the headlining band the way that they had the crowd eating out of their hands. It was the first time these guys played the House of Blues San Diego and they definitely made a lasting impression.
Up next was Face to Face, so I made my way over to the photo pit. The only other photographer there was a heavily bearded young gentleman named Hooter. He told me how he got to spend the day with the band, and that they were one of his favorite bands of all time. I was pretty shocked that it was just the 2 of us shooting such a beloved band, but I quickly forgot about everything that I was thinking as soon as Face to Face took the stage. It was actually hard for me to take photos because I was jumping up and down and singing along, a bit lost in the moment. Even when I felt the contents of an airborne beer coating my back, I was too focused to care. After 3 songs I left the photo pit and tried to regain my composure. I quickly found my new friend Izzy as I was yelling, “Ord-i-nar-y! Ord-i-nar-y!”
Face to Face definitely came out with guns blazing’. They may have gained a few pounds and stopped smoking cigarettes on stage, but they sounded as good as when I saw them as a teenager in a little club in Jacksonville, FL. Trevor loved the energy of the crowd and remarked that they should stay and play 10 more shows in San Diego because San Diegans are f*cking awesome. He warned the crowd that they would have to play a few new songs because they had to actually promote the record, but the majority of the show would be old ones. It was pretty funny when he surveyed the crowd to see who was over 30 and even over 40. Some of my favorite songs were “Bill of Goods”, “Disappointed” and “Shoot the Moon.” I normally wouldn’t consider the House of Blues to be known for its sound quality, but I was definitely enjoying a little pocket of acoustic greatness. Face to Face sounded absolutely amazing! I saw a guy on the side of the stage wearing a t-shirt from my favorite band, The Bronx, and I felt like I was definitely in my happy place. I also noticed that the bass player of F2F looks eerily similar to the singer of Teenage Bottle Rocket; who was standing to the down to the side of the front row pumping his fist in the air. The show was solid all the way though and I was singing along to every song until the very end.
It was a very short break before Face to Face returned for an encore and Trevor addressed the crowd. He asked the crowd if they remembered when punk bands used to play ska and he then gave a shout out to Less Than Jake. Next he dedicated the last song, “Pastel,” to his good friend Nick that happened to be rocking out on the side of the stage. Trevor made a comment about the way he rocks his sweet, luxurious beard. Nick took off his shirt and came streaking across the stage and everyone was cracking up. All in all, it was a damn good time for a Wednesday night.
You can check out Blacklist Royals on their website www.blacklistroyals.com and social media page on Facebook. Teenage Bottle Rocket can be found on www.facebook.com/teenagebottlerocketoffical. Face to Face is currently on tour with both bands until 7/26/13 when the tour ends in Chicago, IL. You can connect with them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/facetoface or their official website www.facetofacemusic.com.
Definitely check out their new record, Three Chords and a Half Truth.