Hordes of punk rockers braved the hipster-filled streets of Lawrenceville on Wednesday night, making their way to the safe confines of Belvederes to see the almighty Dwarves. This show, one that I was eagerly looking forward to, marked just about a year since the last time these punk rock legends were in town, and the crowd was ready to party.
Appropriately enough, the first band up was the Super Fun Time Awesome Party Band. These locals came prepared as they always do, stocked with party hats, confetti poppers, noise makers, and lots and lots of balloons. This sextet plays some loud and fast ska-punk, and the light-hearted nature of their songs is made clear by such song titles as “Party Pooper” and “Shart Attack.” When lead singer and guitarist Polka Kapolka shouts, “Let’s get ready to stumble!” you know you’re in for a good time. Plus they’ve got the coolest horn section in town. SFTAPBʻs next show is June 22nd at the Buzzbin Art & Music shop in Canton, OH with Clownvis Presley, Whiskey Daredevils, and Subourbon Son.
Next up was Porno Tongue, a band that I don’t get to see nearly enough. I first saw these guys last February at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern and was blown away. Their music is something like a cross between punk rock and jam band, complete with a handful of extended guitar solos by Joel Forsgren; these are not your typical two minute, three-chord bangers. Weed is a prevalent theme in their songs (and the in-between song banter), and frontman Jerry Lyon looks the part with his dreads. As always, their set was a ton of fun and ended with an extended version of their song, “Middle Finger.”
Last up of the local acts was Thunder Vest. Their set featured the return of guitarist Nasty Nate (also of The Scratch n’ Sniffs), which brought the Vest back to their original lineup. The crowd was pleased by this event and there much heckling for Nate. Thunder Vest plays some loud, fast, beer-infused punk rock and they really got the crowd moving with songs like the Karate Kid-inspired “Sweep the Leg.” After playing a solid set, including new song “Human Vacuum,” they closed out with “Fat Chicks,” which featured dueling guitar solos from Nate and guitarist Steve Chiang.
Touring with the Dwarves was California-based Decent Criminal. This four piece continued the momentum that Thunder Vest started, playing a unique mix of punk rock, surf rock and alternative, with some pop vibes thrown in. Their sound was definitely fun and refreshingly different. Although initially skeptical, the crowd’s interest was soon piqued and they left the bar to check out the set. You can find Decent Criminal’s music on their Bandcamp page.
Finally it was time for the Dwarves. Earlier in the week Dwarves’ singer Blag Dahlia had blown out his voice and had been passing vocal duties onto the audience during the set. There had been conflicting stories as to whether or not he had recovered, but when he took the stage Blag confirmed that there would be “Dwarves Karaoke” that night. But the show must go on, and it did so admirably.
The set was weighted towards songs sung by bassist Nick Oliveri and Blag did sing a bit throughout the set, occasionally lowering the mic so a fan could sing the next line. At one point he handed off the mic entirely to Thunder Vest frontman Scott Terzolino for two songs, “One Time Only” and “Everybodies Girl.” Terzolino’s animated stage presence helped him fit right in next to the Dwarves crew and the songs went off without a hitch. Despite the unusual circumstances, the crowd was still raging, forming a small mosh pit in front of the stage. The Dwarves set ended too soon, and although the situation was understandable, the crowd left still craving more.