If you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, “Wait, Pennywise? Aren’t they an old punk band?” well yes, you’d be correct. Be that as it may, we must point out that without Pennywise and the punk rock movement they were a part of in the late 80’s and early 90’s, many Noise artists like Beartooth, Slaves and Palisades wouldn’t be around today. Yes, Pennywise has been around since 1988. But, does that really matter? This group of 30-somethings still has what it takes to completely destroy a sold out crowd. Case in point: their Yesterdays album release party last Friday.
Excited as ever for what we were about to experience, we at the Noise closed up shop early and headed out to the always charming House of Blues in Hollywood, California. Greeting us as we entered were the local ska punk boys, Special C. The Redondo Beach trio exuded a remarkable Sublime-like atmosphere that included a dub version of the Pennywise classic, “Bro Hymn” in their set. If you’re interested in hearing the cover yourself, you can check it out here. After a quick roundabout with punk veterans D. I. fronted by the erratic ex-Social Distortion and The Adolescents drummer, Casey Royer, it was finally time for Pennywise.
To say the considerably tipsy crowd of over 1,100 were only a little excited to see Jim Lindberg, Fletcher Dragge, Randy Bradbury and Byron McMackin back in action would be an understatement; you would have thought the bartenders at the House of Blues lit a sign offering free beer. The frenzied crowd exploded as Pennywise ripped into the self-titled track “Pennywise.” Following it up with “Rules” and “Homeless,” the punk rock icons had completely sparked chaotic mosh pits and crowd surfers galore. Midway through their set, those in attendance were treated to a special guest appearance from Greg Hetson of Bad Religion. Accompanying Dragge on guitar, the five old-timers proved age was just a number as they showcased their skills to Bad Religion’s “Do What You Want.” Not quite done with the cover songs, Pennywise later paid homage to Tommy Ramone with their own rendition of the Ramone’s track “Blitzkrieg Bop.” Rounding out the night with hits like “Society,” “Fuck Authority” and of course “Bro Hymn,” Pennywise reassured the room of drunken supporters that they have no intention of giving up their throne atop some of the best punk bands still around today.
With all things considered, yes Pennywise is an old punk band. However, thinking back to their song “My Own Way” and the lyrics, “I don’t give a damn if you got a problem with who I am. ‘Cause I don’t give a fuck. You wanna change me? Well, you’re outta luck,” we don’t think they really care.