“We are Beach Slang and we are here to punch you in the heart!” Frontman James Alex shouted before moving on to full throttle Saturday night, March 11 as the opening performance for Minus the Bear.
The set which followed was everything a good punk performance should be: loose, abrasive and quick. The band went far beyond their task of warming the crowd and after the closing track, everyone was buzzing over the electrifying performance.
Their second song was what really caught the audience’s attention. The groove was undeniable and sufficiently warmed up by that time. Alex’s vocals shone through with admirable clarity and personality. This steady and catchy track eased expertly into the next, a more relaxed and melodic pace following the frenzy of the former. I got a strong “Siamese Dream” feel I just couldn’t get enough of. Whether intentional or not, the similarities continued as the track quickly ramped things up to an animalistic bridge followed by a strong, unrelenting final chorus.
Apart from tight, energetic playing, the band’s personality and stage presence, especially that which came from Alex, was what made this such an enjoyable show. Some may find it a little odd to hear a 40 year-old man yell about teenage feelings of angst and love, all dressed up in a ruffled dress-shirt, bow-tie and suit with a massive heart stitched unto the breast-pocket. Somehow, Alex gets away with it. This is probably a result of his genuine enjoyment of performance and his desire to go over-the-top in everything he does. Whether he’s bragging about how good his vodka and orange juice is, throwing his guitar across the stage to his bassist, hugging a fan or having conversations with drunken hecklers, you can tell he is having an absolute blast doing it.
Another highlight of the evening was the band’s masterful cover of the Pixies’ single, “Where Is My Mind?” The band was met with whistling and cheers as the first cords were played. Anyone who is familiar with Beach Slang’s mixtapes understands to what extent the band enjoys paying homage to their influences. As a massive Pixies fan myself, I can safely say that this wasn’t just a good cover but an excellent one. I was most impressed with Alex’s ability to perfectly recreate Black Francis’ unique vocal performance.
The show reached its peak during the band’s rendition of the song “Dirty Cigarettes” off their 2014 EP “Cheap Thrills On A Dead End Street.” By far the most well-performed by the group as a whole; the song was carried by a particularly infectious riff that will probably stay stuck in my head for the next week or so. With such an energetic performance that never let up from beginning to end, I don’t think I really mind whistling Beach Slang for the next little while.