Pennywise @ Fillmore At Irving Plaza

PennywiseNEW YORK, NY–I got that feeling as if I had gone through an older brother’s CD collection and after listening, did my research. Entering the Pennywise show at The Fillmore, I had no idea that they, along with opener Strung Out, had around 36 years of experience together and a multitude of albums. Plus, the way the crowd responded to their music was enough to make me realize these bands were something more than your average act.

I was surprised that I was able to be dragged up front because the entrance to the main floor usually makes it impossible to get anywhere near the stage. I was right there to see opener, Authority Zero, an Arizona-based band who mixes ska and punk with lightening fast vocals. From the moment they took the stage to the end of their short set, they gave a stellar performance and I wasn’t sure how the other bands could top it.

This is a band to see live and lead singer Jason Devore is one intense front man. He ran circles around the stage and jumped up on the riser to even include fans, standing in the balcony, in the show’s festivities. The majority of their set came from their album, Andiamo, with a rendition of “Rattlin’ Bog” that left the other members unable to follow along with Devore’s tongue-twisting speed.

What really stole the night for me was watching the crowd and how they increasingly grew rowdier and rowdier with each band. For Authority Zero, everyone remained in one area, dancing around and having a good time. But Strung Out released something in the audience that would open up the venue into one large pit area, readying the unsuspecting for the mayhem later on.

Being the last day on the tour, Strung Out was determined to go out with a bang. Giving a live and in-your-face performance, fans were left buzzing around talking about “how awesome the show was.’” Yet, the speakers were up a bit too much which put me in a haze, dulling my hearing and making it difficult to really enjoy the music. It was a shame because on listening to tracks from their latest release, Blackhawks Over Los Angeles, it’s a pretty solid album.

Pennywise started like a freak storm and before I knew it, pumped out quite a few songs–short and high powered punk rock songs. With a new ninth full-length album out, Reason To Believe, Pennywise had a wide gambit to fill their set list from. The choices seemed to appease the crowd, who were in a frenzy by now. Lead singers of Authority Zero and Strung Out both came out to assist in vocals for two cover songs of the evening.

Overall, the evening was for the fans and Pennywise’s lead singer made note of that early on in the evening when he told the photographers to shoot the audience during the fourth song, something not usually done. I was impressed that for all the years they’ve been making music and touring, their live show was something to put any new band coming out now to shame.

Photo Credit: Chapman Baehler