Concert review: Punk Goes Pop Tour with The Queers, The Leftovers and TA-80

Well, I broke the “cardinal rule” of concert going and dared to wear my Queers shirt at the September 25, 2009 “Punk Goes Pop” concert. TA-80, The Leftovers and the Queers rocked the Orpheum in Ybor City Friday night and proved that perhaps it isn’t so terrible for punk to go pop….occasionally.

With mohawks, leather-clad fans and converse hi-tops abound, the ambiance was set for a loud and proud night. I hadn’t seen the Queers perform in at least 5 years, although I will tell you that it was in the one, short year of my life that I lived in South Florida, in which I fell in love with their music. It was a kind of homecoming feeling, and I knew Joe Queer wouldn’t let me down.

The last time I watched them was in Eugene, Oregon at the WOW Hall, a venue much like the Orpheum but without the bar view of the stage. Still, The Queers were great at picking places that were simple and intimate, so as to really connect with the audience.

TA-80 opened with an incredibly punkish vibe. Their first song was less than a minute long, but the female bass player’s vocals were strong and powerful. The singer and keyboard player put on a space-like helmet adorned with a Mohawk on top and just started going crazy on the stage. TA-80’s energy was great, and they fell into the ideals of the quintessential punk rock show – loud, blaring, and leaving your ears ringing after only one song.

With two guitars, the bass, keyboard and drummer, this 5 piece kicked off the evening with deep and droning bass lines and succinct, punctuated guitar riffs that had the tattooed crowd slowly moving towards the stage to nod their heads in approval. The stage interaction was great between the band members and TA-80 was a worthy opener for the Leftovers and of course, for The Queers.

Next, the Leftovers took the stage. The Orpheum had just filled in and the beer was flowing. It was a good crowd and the four members of the Leftovers dominated the stage with their energy. After going to enough punk-rock or pop-punk shows, it’s important to walk in with no expectations for the openers, because you just never know, and in the case of the Leftovers, I was blown away.

Not only did the dueling guitars, bass, and drums connect to make some outrageously fun songs, but the band is made up of the kind of eye candy that made me remember why I married a musician. It was difficult not to swoon…or stare and drool.

The Leftovers put the rock, in “punk rock” and added their own signature sounds to each and every note. The fast drum beats, pulsating bass lines, pronounced guitar solos and overall talent rocked the audience and left them wanting more. There were many fans who immediately hit the merchandise table after the set to grab some CDs and a sticker or two.

After front man, Kurt, told a great story about the new guitarist, Matt leaving his internship as a paleontologist to go on tour, he announced “Dinosaurs are dead but rock ‘n’ roll still lives!” What else is there to say to describe how hilariously cool The Leftovers are, both in stage presence and musically?

Finally, we reached the moment where The Queers took the stage. This ensemble was slightly unfamiliar to me.  A new female bass player was added and the drummer, Adam, from The Leftovers took the stage behind Joe Queer. A mosh pit broke out almost instantly, and despite some new faces on stage, they played like the very Queers I remembered.

Although I ran into a skeptic in between sets, feeling as though there was no indication that Joe Queer was even there and that perhaps the Queers just wouldn’t be what he wanted, Joe Queer took the stage and captivated the audience in mere seconds. The area in front of the stage filled, the crowd response was a positive one and everyone, on stage and off, was moving around and having a blast.

Joe Queer said they were only playing “Pop” songs so as to go along with the tour theme, but “We don’t quite know what the f*** we’re doing.” Even with the new additions they still had the same old Queers sound, especially when they played such awesome classics as “Noodlebrain,”  “F*** The World,” and “Sheena is a Punk Rocker.”

True to form, and the idea of punk going pop, The Queers set was short but sweet and left the crowd fulfilled and satisfied. The early night at the Orpheum, ending at only 10:30 left the fans, and the bands ready to party in Ybor City. I mingled with the band members here and there and left remembering why I fell in love with Punk as a teen, and followed it no matter where it decided to go, whether it was going pop, or not!

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