Wheatus played Rescue Rooms on Monday on the anniversary tour of their eponymous album that included the huge hit ‘Teenage Dirtbag’; I bet that makes you feel old! Well if it does then don’t worry, so are they. There was a distinct feeling among the crowd as Brendan B. Brown bounced around the stage that maybe, as he turns 42 next week and is the only original member, he should leave his punk pop days in the past.
The first half of the set was rather strong as it launched with the first song of their first album, Truffles. They managed to get the crowd singing along finely during the opening half an hour as they reeled off some fan favourites at the request of the crowd. However they needed the vocal help of the fans as they were missing a backing vocalist due to illness. This unfortunately left a backing vocalist who was not up to the task at hand, even forgetting the words to ‘Punk Ass Bitch.’ This illness had struck the whole band as Brown gave a spirited display through a series of coughing fits; but he also managed to fit in an amusing quip about the NHS and the state of their tour bus.
“It felt like everyone in the room was joined together in recapturing their preteen spirit and shouting the lyrics back at Brown”
The interaction between Wheatus and the crowd was an interesting part of the set as they seemed to take on the suggestions of the crowd to form their set list. This led to a feeling of involvement that worked really well in the small Rescue Rooms venue. However a major problem in this was that after a stellar forty minutes of singles and fan favourites, they seemed to begin to lose the interest of most of the more casual fans. There became an increasing feeling that the majority of the crowd were apathetic and just waiting for the band’s signature single. Also the gaps between the songs to ask the crowd for their next choice sapped the entire pace and energy out of the gig which further enhanced the feeling that they were dragging their heels towards their anticipated climax.
“A band that are past their prime and have a less than well-known back catalogue”
The final arrival of ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ did indeed fire the crowd back into life: it felt like everyone in the room was joined together in recapturing their preteen spirit and shouting the lyrics back at Brown, and the appearance of Mike Doughtry with a tambourine was particularly enjoyable as the band began to milk the finale, much to the crowd’s delight.
Overall Wheatus’ delivered a set that was more satisfying than entertaining; thanks to the performance of their defining anthem. It was enjoyable but I couldn’t escape the lethargy that comes from a band that are past their prime and have a less than well-known back catalogue. It was a valiant effort from the Americans but I personally was underwhelmed by a rather lacklustre set.
Image: Vladamir via flickr
Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham’s IMPACT Magazine.