Pennywise / Strung Out – Live in Vancouver (03/14/18)

  • Bobby Gorman posted
  • Reviews

Pennywise / Strung Out / Mobina Galore

Live in Vancouver (03/14/18) - Commodore Ballroom - Vancouver, BC

There are those certain bands that you always know what you’ll get. A new NOFX album is always NOFX. Bad Religion will always have that Greg Graffin vocal melody and Mr. Brett guitar work.  They’re punk rock staples who continually deliver unparalleled output that keeps them at the top of their game – but let’s be honest, they rarely push the boundaries of their own sound. They know what works for them and they continue to do it, much to their fans’ content.

No better example of that is the legendary foursome from Hermosa Beach, Pennywise.  Coming into their 30th year of a band which will see them release their 12th studio album, Never Gonna Die, the skate punk band is essentially the definition of skate punk. Sure, they definitely mixed it up when front man Jim Lindberg left and was replaced by Ignite‘s Zoltán Téglás; but Pennywise is always Pennywise.

Whether you consider that consistency or nostalgia or something else completely different, it means you know what you’re going to get when going into a Pennywise show.  And so the old punks of Vancouver came out in droves to catch Pennywise at the Commodore Ballroom alongside fellow veterans Californian punkers Strung Out.

Strung Out came out for a non-stop 45 minute set with their metalic guitar riffs and thunderous energy flowing through each moment. The first two songs were marred with some sound difficulties, as frontman Jason Cruz was forced to changed mics to be heard. Luckily the packed house sang for him, shouting along to Bring Out Your Dead, Crashradiocrash, Analog and Mission to Mars.  They kept it no nonsense, never stopping to talk but deliver pummeling song after song. Cruz jumped into the crowd, passing the mic to them over and over again – pulling the fans closer to one another in a way that only a punk rock show can do.

When the big man Fletcher Dragge stepped onto the stage, the crowd went wild and never stopped. Pennywise pummeled nonstop for an hour straight. At over fifty years old, the band still delivers their all with more intensity than most of the young bands. They played one new song, Never Gonna Die, from their upcoming album and jammed through their large back catalog.

At one point Lindberg took the photographer’s cameras from their hands and took countless crowd photos, egging and teasing the photographers for their camera settings. The bad mouthed Trump and proclaimed their love for Canada before launching into My Own Country. Mentioned how surprised they are to be still playing 30 years after forming and that songs such as Society are still as relevant now as they were when they were first written.

The show really kicked off in the second half of the evening once they stopped the crowd to vote on a cover song. Choosing to do Wild Streets by Circle Jerks and The Beastie Boys‘ famed Fight For Your  Right that blended perfectly into their titular track Pennywise. From then on, the night was a blur. My Own Way, Same Old Story, Fuck Authority – they played all their hits including Stand By Me before ending with Bro Hymm.

Unlike so many bands, Pennywise never does encores. They end with their celebratory anthem and that’s that. Its short, sweet and to the point – what you expect from Pennywise and a forced or planned encore would just be disingenuous at this point.

I never mentioned it but newcomers Mobina Galore from Winnipeg opened up the evening’s event. Despite how excited I was to see them for a second time, I arrived too late and missed out. While I can’t speak to their showmanship on this specific occasion, I still highly recommend checking them out anyway. After all – you already know who Pennywise is.