PALOMINO SMOKEHOUSE, SEPTEMBER 20, 2013
As the anchor for the Jaguars Scooter Club rally, The Avengers’ show at the Palomino promised to continue with the weekend’s theme: unabashed indulgence in a semi-recent past with little hint of irony. Indeed, the Avengers’ first show in Calgary ever was heavily anticipated by punk fans old enough to have seen them in their prime and young enough to be fascinated by the bands that have followed in their footsteps.
Opening the show was Calgary’s own power pop dream boats, the Mandates. Their slick, bouncy songs that draw heavily from late ’70s NYC punk and ’80s Pacific Northwest power pop were a great way to kick the night off. Despite guitarist Matt Wickens having some technical difficulties with his pedals and some inconsistencies with the band’s overall tightness, the Mandates were a joy to watch. It’s seemingly impossible to frown during their set as their ripe energy is as infectious as their hooks.
Vancouver’s Tranzmitors were up next and they wasted no time demonstrating why they’re one of No Fun City’s most adored groups: from the first three chords, these mod punks flew out of the gate with rambunctious drive, getting everyone in the first couple of rows bopping and bouncing along. The quartet showed their true prowess, however, when drummer Bryce Dunn burst through his kick drum halfway through their set: with no replacement immediately available, the Tranzmitors improvised a new set list, stripped the kit down and brought Dunn front and centre to bash on a three-piece kit that, surprisingly, worked as well as if this had been their format all along. It was an absolutely fantastic performance, one that would end up being the evening’s highlight.
It’s been a good year for nostalgia acts at the Palomino. First, legendary Detroit punks, Death, took the stage earlier this year; recently, Redd Kross brought their iconography to the basement; and now, San Francisco first wave punks, the Avengers, debuted in Calgary. These shows generate a ton of interest in the weeks leading up to the event — after all, when else are we going to have a chance to catch such seminal bands? — but it’s tough to fully engage with them during their set. Indeed, following the Tranzmitors, the Avengers’ set was interesting but paled in comparison to the openers’ youthful zest. There’s a certain tension these acts carry, trying to both relive the past and perform in the present, which doesn’t always translate. It’s fantastic that so many acts are able to still tour now, but definitely don’t expect the calibre of performance that made them so vital 30 years ago.
Words and Photos By Sebastian BuzzalinoAB, Alberta