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Pepper/Pennywise
w/ Authority Zero, Big B
Fox Theatre in Pomona, CA
5/28/2009

I will not even pretend that I wasn’t more attracted to the prospect of seeing the new Fox Theatre than any of the bands, but Pennywise has never let me down in their live show, so it wasn’t like I was seeing a particularly shitty show just to scope the new kid on town.

I came in during opener Dubluva, who was exactly who I didn’t want to see at a show. These are the same shirtless white kids who listen to Bob Marley in between bar fights and who create weird and aggressive reggae jams. I stopped to watch them for two or three minutes, and then continued in my explorations. It was weird seeing drinks served at a show in Pomona, when I am used to sneaking away to Angelo’s Pizza (and pre-demolitioned Yesteryears) for my alcohol needs while at the Glasshouse. I counted several bars, and while they all took cash only, there were two (not one, but TWO!) ATMs in the lobby.

Running into a lady friend there, we sat and chatted by the Authority Zero merch booth when I noticed that one of my buddies from high school was Pepper’s merch guy. Small fucking world, huh? I zoned out during Big B for two reasons:

1) I have already heard the album and was not interested in anyone reveling in their white trashiness
2) The smell of cheap weed and cheaper beer in the house was staggering

Authority Zero went through their erratic mix up of ska riffs and radio rock riffs which appeared to hit home for all the bros, bro hoes, cholos and the random aging punks all at once. They plowed through their set, doing exactly what supporting acts are supposed to do: get everyone pumped up and ready for the headliner(s). Also, their bassist looked like a mix of Kato Kaelin and Guy Fieri.

The simple fact that Pennywise went on before Pepper was fucking weird. Here’s a band that’s been around since ’88 (as opposed to Pepper’s ’96), is from SoCal (as opposed to Hawaii), and is by most standards a bigger band. I gotta give it to them, though- I think that it shows that Pennywise agreeing to a co-headlining tour shows that they aren’t full of themselves. The set was only an hour long and included a rousing cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Fight For Your Right,” but of course they finished with “Bro Hymn,” with hundreds of pairs of long black socks singing along.

While a lot of Pennywise’s fans bounced soon after, it was still obvious by the sheer amount of shirtless dudes that Pepper was holding their own on drawing fans to the show. While they are known for their weird rock/dub hybrid (and weird effing graphics on their CD covers), Pepper bared their roots when they butchered a cover of Nirvana in between stoner anthems. It was hard to really focus on the band’s musicianship when I kept constantly wondering how they could play their instruments when the entire body of the bass and guitar lay below their waistline.

While I did see one guy leave on a gurney, I was surprised with how well everyone got along. Maybe it’s not such a strange alliance after all.

–Jonathan Yost