2015.11.28 :: Zebrahead w/ Patent Pending & Man With A Mission :: Brooklyn Bowl London
Andrew W.K. may have popularized the word, but Zebrahead are perhaps the ultimate party band. Not only are all their songs (literally all of them) about drinking beer and having a bloody good time with your mates, they actually have a bar on stage – and three Germans dressed up as pirates serving them drinks throughout the set. Or was it two Germans and one of the guys from Patent Pending? We’ll come back to that.
The first band of the evening has travelled all the way from Japan to be with us at the Brooklyn Bowl tonight, and it’s actually their first ever UK club show.
Man With A Mission bounce out on stage to the sounds of Bad Religion, and the first thing you can’t help but notice is they’re all wearing wolf masks. Some post-show research informs us that the five-piece from Shibuya have invented an entire back-story for the band that involves Jimi Hendrix and Antarctica, but right now all we can do is gaze in amazement as the merrymaking gets under way.
It’s hard to explain exactly what Man With A Mission’s musical style is – punk rap rock might give you some idea – but frankly genre doesn’t matter when there’s this much fun to be had. And as the first of three bands on tonight’s bill, they play a headline worthy set, featuring a cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit, a guest appearance by Matty and Ali from Zebrahead, and more shredding than an afternoon in an Accountant’s office – if all the Accountants had spent their lunch break getting pissed in the pub, and come back to the office to rock out to Limp Bizkit whilst dressed up as animals.
By all accounts they’re already superstars on home soil, and it’s surely only a matter of time before the western world awakes to the nu-metal / dance-pop sensation that is Man With A Mission. Global domination starts here.
Patent Pending, in contrast to MWAM, have spent a lot of time in the UK, serving as regular tour supports to the likes of Bowling For Soup and tonight’s main attraction: Zebrahead. They’re actually kind of like a junior version of those two bands, and their bleached blond barnets, synchronised dance moves, and undeniably infectious energy keep the good time vibes ticking over, whilst familiar hits such as “Don’t Let Go” and “Mario” eventually have some of the more mature punk rockers in the house singing and dancing along.
They’re definitely a band with a younger demographic, and it’s clear songs like “Douchebag” (with lyrics like, “Dude, I’m not your bro”) are slightly too juvenile for some people in tonight’s audience (and this is a Zebrahead show don’t forget), but there’s absolutely no denying the sincerity and passion these five young guys have for making music, as perfectly exemplified in the anthemic “One Less Heart to Break”.
Even if all the songs don’t quite connect with everyone in the room, the “wall of hugs” and “crowd swimming” (you kind of had to be there) leaves the lion’s share entertained – and that, after all, is why we are here.
Which brings us to the stars of the show. And there’s no two ways about it: Zebrahead rule! Every single element and component of their set tonight is designed to make you want to drink, dance, sing, smile, and be merry.
The amalgamation of styles – from hip-hop, ska and punk rock, to sprinklings of metal and pop – in their music is enough to distract you from the fact that all the songs are pretty much about the same thing (getting drunk with your homies), but Zebrahead are under no pretence that they’re a serious band: they embrace their inner party childs, letting them shine for the whole world to see.
Whether it’s Dan ‘The Moustache’ Palmer ripping face-melting solos, bassist Ben Osmundson cracking jokes, drummer Ed Udhus being the butt of jokes, or singers Matty and Ali instigating mayhem up front, each member is a frontman in his own right, and the band are a cast of larger than life characters, on a mutual quest to amuse and entertain.
They show touring buddies Man With A Mission some love too, repaying the favour extended to them earlier in the evening by bringing out the chief of the pack (Tokyo Tanata) to lend his howls to “Devil On My Shoulder”, whilst one of the Patent Pending guys is enlisted for his backing vocals and bartending skills for the duration, and it’s evident this really is one big happy family. That sense of love and unity is extended tenfold out into the crowd, and it’s simply impossible not to be having the best time of your life whilst Zebrahead are on stage.
Familiar favourites like “I’m Just Here for the Free Beer” and “Mike Dexter is a God, Mike Dexter is a Role Model, Mike Dexter is an Asshole” are interspersed by traditional drinking songs, and plenty of drinking done by Germans in pirate costumes (again, you kind of had to be there). Even new material such as the latest single “Worse Than This” elicits a riotous response from the crowds, which we all know is a rare sensation for bands these days. They bring things to a head with a two-song encore featuring “Everything’s Falling Apart” and the aptly titled “Anthem”, before exiting the stage to the rock ‘n’ roll show-stopper that is, erm…Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”…we told you these guys like to party!
Words by Matt Stocks – @mattstocksdj
Photos courtesy of Trudi Knight
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