Pennywise Energizes First Avenue With Positivity


I just had to fit one last show in until the trek to Chicago for the always exhausting, yet always amazing, Riot Fest weekend. While my friends surely were packing and getting ready for the trip, I found myself lost in a crowd surrounded by like minded people. The misfits, the punks, the metalheads, everyone showed up to First Avenue last night to appreciate the sounds that flowed off the stage last night and the ideas that, in someway or another, we all subscribe to in our own ways.

The main reason I decided I just couldn’t miss Wednesday night’s show was because of H2O. Although I’ve never caught them headline a show, I’ve caught them opening up for other acts before and, if that’s all I can get, that’s what I’ll take. H2O is a legendary hardcore punk band that got started in the mid 90’s over in New York City. They have seven albums which each one seemingly better than the last and although they haven’t released a full length since 2015, they are still one of the more relevant bands out there. There’s something so positive about H2O, their music, and their message. A firm believer in the “you do you and just be a good person” movement, I couldn’t help but just stand there stunned as they played through the songs that repeat through my head on a daily basis. Their set was just over thirty minutes which definitely wasn’t enough for me but, as mentioned, I’ll take what I can get.

Following H2O was another favorite of mine- Anti-Flag. They say don’t talk politics when you’re in a room full of strangers but that’s exactly what Anti-Flag does and it’s absolutely perfect. I hate to use the term but the members of this band are clearly “woke” and that vibe is something that I think we need more of on stage in this day and age. Anti-Flag is constantly touring and constantly on the grind (they have eleven full length albums dating back to 1996) which means I have seen them well over a couple dozen times but that doesn’t mean I’m bored with them. Although the message and the songs seem to always stay the same, it’s something that is so refreshing no matter how many times I experience it. Anti-Flag makes it okay to get political, they make it okay to talk about things that society may stray away from and, most importantly, they make a stand against all things wrong with the power of their music.

From high jumps to drummer Pat Thetic’s crazy and entertaining faces, Anti-Flag may have been opening the show against a very legendary band but that didn’t stop them from giving the audience a top shelf show. That’s one of the things I have always admired about this band. No matter how many times I see them and no matter where they are at on a line-up, they give you everything they have and never leave any energy left on the table.

Closing out the powerful night of music and positive messages was the almighty Pennywise. Since 1988, this California based punk band has been making waves in the punk scene and has stayed one of the more prominent names throughout the scene. Much like the other two bands, Pennywise seems to have been grinding since day one. They have twelve full length albums out that go back to 1991. Their nearly twenty song set-list did a great job of highlighting their extensive career. Sure, I heard the hits that I have been listening to since I was an angsty teenager but the audience was also treated to some b-sides from throughout their discography. Honestly it was a perfect set list that was part of a perfect night. Yeah, everything was just perfect.

The audience was eating up every single note from every single band but there seemed to be a new sense of fury that hit the crowd as Pennywise took the stage. You could feel that this band meant everything to some people in the audience and it made for a beautiful atmosphere. Although I’m not one of those people that obsesses over this band, their influence and importance is not lost on me and I loved being able to stand back and just watch all of that admiration unfold in the moshpit. Sure, you could call the audience rowdy but it was a polite kind of rowdy. The main message of last night’s show was that we are all just a little weird and that’s okay. The bottom line is, in such a crazy world, punk shows are one place where you can come, be yourself, do what you want, and there will be no judgement. This is something many bands try to preach but I feel like some bands fall a bit short on. Pennywise is not one of those bands. They didn’t have to say anything, there was just something about their performance and the energy they were giving off that said it all.

My friends are probably all packed and ready to go. I’ve been throwing random clothes in a backpack in between writing thoughts down for this blog. I’ll surely leave something important at home and I have yet to even find someone to check in on the cats even though I’ll be leaving right after I post this. I just had to slip one more show in before heading out of town and it’s clear that it was the right decision. I’m truly thankful I didn’t miss the show last night.