- by Andy Brown Release Date:2011-11-23 Label: Polyvinyl
It’s Sunday night, traditionally a time to relax, watch something on Netflix and try to distract yourself from the thought of Monday morning. Except, I’m on holiday at the moment and I’ve come to see Pennsylvania’s finest, Pissed Jeans, at the Belgrave Music Hall. Sometimes, life is pretty good.
I’m stood on the roof terrace when tonight’s first band takes to the stage but I can feel the seismic vibrations through the floorboards as they burst into life. Along with the likes of Super Luxury, Blacklisters and Pink Rick, Irk play the kind of bludgeoning noise-rock that would make David Yow proud.
The sheer volume coming from the three-piece is impressive enough, their line-up consisting of drums, bass and throat-shredding vocals. The bassist stands in front of an array of effects pedals with a few of them presumably marked with the words loud, louder and really loud. The song's confrontational dirge combines the energy of hardcore with the tight rhythms of math rock; all smothered in a satisfyingly heavy, doom-laden rumble. It’s dark, heavy-duty noise of the highest order.
The noise isn’t about to let up with the arrival of York’s Fawn Spots. The band offer up a set of passionately played, high-energy punk that manages to recall the likes of Husker Du, Mission of Burma and Rites of Spring. Stripped to the waist, singer, Jonathan Meager looks utterly possessed as he pours every ounce of available energy into each furiously delivered, vitriolic moment.
There’s barely a seconds gap between songs and the set gains a hair-raising momentum as they launch into each three-minute, punk prayer. The vocal interplay between Meager and second guitarist Oliver Grabowski works particularly well, further adding to the song’s sense of frantic urgency. In a nod to their influences the band rattle through a faithfully energetic rendition of Mission of Burma classic, ‘That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate’. It’s a genuinely exciting set and as they reach peak, in-the-red intensity during their final song I realise I’m sweating just watching them.
I’ve been lucky enough to see Pissed Jeans a couple of times before tonight’s show, both times were an absolute riot. In fact, the first time around 2007 in the small upstairs room at The Fenton actually felt like a riot. But, you know, a fun one. With past glories in mind, I had pretty high expectations for tonight but wasn’t too concerned; despite all the apparent chaos inherent in their music Pissed Jeans have been consistently ace since I first heard them.
Matt Korvette is on form from the beginning as he introduces the band as 90's Emo types, The Get Up Kids and apologises that Pissed Jeans couldn’t make it (“we hope you like our Get Up Kids Music”). Suffice to say, The Get Up Kids never sounded like some unholy combination of Black Flag, The Jesus Lizard and Bleach-era Nirvana.
The band is animated from the start but no-one more than Korvette; strutting, sneering, gyrating and screaming his way through every song. We’re only a minute in when Korvette attempts some kind of dance routine with an extension cable, wrapping it around himself like some drunken stage invader at a strip club. Despite the obvious aggression in the music and performance there’s always an impish sense of humour at the core of Pissed Jeans, a sly wink that lets you know that they’re actually having the time of their lives.
Of course it helps that the songs are so addictive too; guitarist Bradley Fry supplying riff after riff. The sound comes on like a juggernaut of sludge riffs and adrenaline, the repetitive bounce of King of Jeans classic ‘False Jesii Part 2’ sweating and screaming alongside the explosive joys of ‘Health Plan’, ‘Cathouse’ (the best song about cat allergies ever?) and ‘Romanticize Me’ from their last LP.
At one point Korvette jokingly complains that the singer never gets to sit down, this leads to the drummers stool being passed around the band during the next song. Punk is nothing if not a democracy. The set ends with a riotous ‘Bathroom Laughter’ but they’re back on seconds later for one last sweaty encore. The last song is enveloped in feedback as Korvette prowls the stage eating a banana and ad-libbing some lyrics about his Puma underwear.
I leave slightly deaf but safe in the knowledge that Pissed Jeans are still one of the best live bands around.