20th January | Exchange
Photo: Albert Testani
I oscillate between thinking that the persona of singer, James Alex, and his repetitive lyrical themes of youth, being ‘alive’, death and bad timing are all for show and that there is actually a deep earnestness to his drive to create pop punk music. The type of music you listen to by yourself as therapy and then when you see it live in a grungy venue with a couple of hundred other devotees, you shout, hold arms around each other, until you’re as horse as the lead singer.
Watching Beach Slang perform with their new line-up was an interesting experience. In a lot of ways they embodied their sound of the newest wave of pop punk, chaotic and free form, but there were a lot of elements that felt forced and cliche. However, the genre today is a very cliched. Most of the original pop punkers, your Blink 182s and Green Days, have transformed into very different, self-reflective and self-important bands.
Alex arrived on stage slightly inebriated and tore through most of the set with an energy and enthusiasm that highlighted the fact that he was excited to be back on the road and touring with a band that nearly collapsed in on itself this time last year. The departure of half of the band and a halted performance that was captured on video and promptly posted on social media, almost surely signalled the end for this project.
Although the band persevered, regrouped and with the release of a new record, A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings, Beach Slang, lost none of it’s previous angst or energy and this performance showed embodied that. Similar to their records, which includes their previously released, The Things We Do To Find People Like US, Beach Slang’s sets are fast, short, rough around the edges and very focused on being young and alive.
Between songs, the band conferred on which songs to play next because they both wanted to please the crowd and they weren’t sure if they could play them on the set list. There were a couple of restarts and skipped songs, as well as some embellished audibles during a few number, but for the most part they were things the audience could look past.
When the group invited Bristol’s favourite concert goer, Big Jeff, for a cover of The Cure’s ‘Boy’s Don’t Cry’ and later a cover of The Pixies ‘Where Is My Mind’, the area between overdone and authentic blurred more and more, but as Alex furiously windmill strummed his guitar and bent over backwards with the rest of the band smiling and jumping around on stage, no one cared and the audience felt exactly the way they wanted them to.
Check out ‘Punks In A Disco Bar’ below.