Joe King “Didn’t Get Invited to the Prom.” He was “Kicked out of the Webelos,” he was ”Born to do Dishes,” and he’s written about it all to the rapture of fans who have kicked and punched the air along to his grumpy musical grievances for the past three decades.
King, long since dubbed Joe Queer, launched into one short and sweet punk rock classic after another during The Queers’ punctuated half hour set at The Shredder last Monday after doing the routine introduction of the band members–each of them in a rotating cast of over 35 members since the band’s New England basement beginnings in 1981.
The punk rock legend extraordinaire and the lineup du jour graced the ear holes of a wired up crowd of punk fans with classics like “This Place Sucks,” “Punk Rock Girls” and “Monster Zero” with all the punk rock purity of the unaffected 15-year-old from your high school algebra class–an astonishing accomplishment for a frontman in his 50s.
“It’s great to be in Boise again. I don’t care what everybody else in the country says, it’s not bad,” Joe Queer, ever the wordsmith, said.
Queer (the frontman) is the only staple member to appear on every studio album released by the band, firmly establishing in his more than 30 years as a bandleader that Joe Queer is The Queers.
Regardless, the band has always identified as the band, avoiding any restructuring into “Joe Queer and backup band”–a practice likewise adapted over the years by Peter-Pan-esque aging punk bands, the likes of which include Screeching Weasel, fronted by occasional Queers collaborator Ben Weasel, and Green Jello, Bill Manspeaker’s army of 400+ with the antiquity to now include in the lineup Manspeaker’s teenage son.
“We’re going back to the old Ramones thing–28 minute sets. Hey, we’re keeping it punk, motherfu#$er! …This song’s called…. Hey, Lurch (Nobody, of The Nobody’s), what’re we gonna play?” rambled Queer to the drummer before launching into the lyrics to the next song: “See you later fu#$ face / See you later fu#$ face / See you later fu#$ face / We hate you!”
It was clear that this line up had not been rehearsing complex musical compositions together for 12 years. It was also clear that the songs were so established in the cultural canon that it didn’t matter. Comparatively young-ish punks, tour co-headliners Teenage Bottlerocket, played a polished old-school punk set in prelude to the rough and dirty garage-caliber performance of their legendary colleagues.
Teenage Bottlerocket (TBR), a band born in Laramie, Wyoming in 2001, started playing punk rock, “…because we were able to play it,” drummer Brandon Carlisle said with a laugh. The musician and his brother, TBR bass player Ray Carlisle, grew up listening to metal, then later dug into bands like The Hanson Brothers and NOFX.
The band was honored to tour with ’90s giants NOFX before launching an East Coast tour with The Queers in a move back in time through punk rock. This year, the bands decided to tackle the West Coast in a sister tour, gracing Boise with a balanced breakfast of musical chaos.
TBR set the stage for The Queers with a supercharged bullet train of a performance–full of super fast drum beats, fleshy guitar riffs and gut rumbling power vocals to get drunk and start a fight to.
Fittingly, the crowd—including angsty teens, middle-aged scene vets and everything in between–did some damage with an irresponsible level of flailing and pushing in the moshpit. Spikey youngsters knocked over a merch table, spilling beer all over the T-shirt display of an opening band, and shoved an Arbiter videographer’s head into a brick wall. (Really, I’m fine.)
It was an indisputable killer of a show.