October and November are jam packed with awesome shows this year, but the one I was most looking forward to came first – and will likely be hard to top. It was a pop punk power house bill with The Queers, Teenage Bottlerocket and The Copyrights, coinciding with Beauty Bar’s Nickel Beer night, so I knew it was going to be a packed show. While the dirt cheap booze was a good enough incentive to bring out the drinkers, I think more than a few of them were won over by the bands’ hook-driven sets.
Kicking off the show was Illinois’ The Copyrights, who unfortunately had to play opposite heavy construction in the alley adjacent to the Beauty Bar. They play the kind of pop punk I love and the kind Red Scare Industries is known for. That aggressive, Screeching Weasel meets The Mr. T Experience-style pop punk that bands like Dillinger Four and Off With Their Heads have popularized is played by few bands as good as The Copyrights who, along with their The Thing That Ate Larry Livermore peers, prove that there is still great pop punk being made outside of the easycore scene. In particular, the band slays at writing the most hook-filled three part vocal harmonies in modern punk.
I missed The Copyrights last time they came through so I was beyond excited to finally get the chance to sing along with favorites like “Kids of the Black Hole,” “Worn Out Passport” and “I’d Probably Rather Die or Something.” The biggest singalong came with the one-two punch of “Crutches” and “Hard-Wired.” These two tracks unequivocally have to be played together a la Green Day’s “Brain Stew” and “Jaded” and without missing a beat the band dove right into them as fans perched themselves right up against the stage to sing the words right back with fists in the air. From what I understand, their last Vegas show at Dive Bar didn’t have a great turnout so hopefully seeing everyone up front singing their hearts out convinces the band to make our city a more permanent stop on subsequent tours.
Next up were the night’s biggest draw, Wyoming’s Teenage Bottlerocket. It’s been a long time since TBR has graced Vegas with their presence (2011’s brief appearance at Punk Rock Bowling, to be exact) so fans of their Ramones-esq pop punk were eager to see what they do best. With the construction crew finally on break and the crowd sufficiently boozed up, TBR’s skull-faced, hoodie-wearing mascot took to the stage with a big pink TBR sign, resulting in thunderous applause. That applause only grew when the foursome dove right into tongue in cheek “Headbanging,” which ironically resulted in little actual hangbanging but did bring about the biggest circle pit I’ve seen at the Beauty Bar outside of a PRB aftershow.
Those who hadn’t seen TBR live before seemed surprised by the unruly energy, with the band alternating between ironic rock star poses and insane jumps. Co-vocalist/co-guitarist Ray Carlisle really knows how to work a crowd, performing the bulk of the jumps and taking advantage of Beauty Bar’s high stage and sound system to walk out above the crowd on the speakers and shred right in eager fans’ faces. The back patio basically exploded at the outset of “Skate or Die” from their Fat Wreck debut They Came from the Shadows. Fellow Shadows track and set ender “Bigger Than Kiss” got the second biggest mob frenzy of their set, while I was beyond thrilled hearing tracks “Welcome To The Nuthouse” and “In the Basement” from my favorite TBR album Warning Device.
By the time The Queers hit the stage the crowd had thinned a little leaving only the most diehard of Queers fans along with people too wasted to find their way back to their cars (let alone drive). It’s safe to say that without the pop punk mainstays that are New Hampshire’s The Queers, Teenage Bottlerocket and The Copyrights probably wouldn’t even exist, or would at least exist in a very different, less charted environment. The band helped cultivate the early sound of Lookout Records, which continues to influence bands to this day. The cult of Queers fans started what quickly became the second biggest pit I’ve seen at the Beauty Bar, starting when the trio kicked off with “No Tit” and continued late into the night. After 30+ years in the punk scene it’s hard to match the youthful energy of The Copyrights and the rowdy assault of Teenage Bottlerocket. But I admit that hearing frontman Joe Queer sing the classics like “Punk Rock Girls” still puts a huge grin on my face.