Zebrahead – Birmingham Academy

By paul

Zebrahead. Birmingham Academy 2. 23 March 2010

There was a clear divide at the gig tonight, young people at the front, older people at the back, as much as this is normally the case it was really evident at this gig. Orange were up first and I immediately felt like I’d gone back in time. Apparently these guys have been around since 2002, and you can tell. Not because their sound was was produced and well put together, in fact quite the opposite. They were your average pop punk band, reminiscent of the likes of all those other pop punk bands around in the early 2000’s, looking a bit awkward on stage and comparing Pokemon tattoos with the crowd. Vocals were raspy and slightly out of tune, guitars were simple and the mix was bass heavy. The best part of the set for me was the cover of ‘Help’ where Perry took over lead vocals from Dexter and MC Lars came out and rapped a bit. The kids at the front loved them and happily clapped along, the older ones, who had probably been around the first time looked unimpressed. Whilst these guys were far from the best band I’ve ever seen, they’re most definitely not the worst. They seem like nice guys just out to have fun, and I’m a sucker for nice guys.

MC Lars was up next and the Academy 2 was getting full. Lars’ projector and banner filled the stage leaving just enough room for him and DJ to do their thing. You know what you’re going to get with MC Lars and he didn’t disappoint; clever, comical lyrics and pop culture references all backed by catchy beats, and ridiculous projections. Zebrahead came onstage for the last few songs and provided backing for ‘Download this Song’ and ‘Hot Topic is Not Punk Rock.’ The 30 minute set was brilliant and definitely stepped the night up a gear.

I really enjoy Zebrahead recorded, but live they’re just unnecessarily dirty. I’m in no way prudish, but I can’t help but feel that they’re too old for boob/dick/sex jokes and whilst there were less than the last time I saw them live, there were still enough to be cringeworthy. The set opened with ‘Hell Yeah!’ and contained the usual suspects of ‘Jag Off,’ Two Wrongs..’ and ‘Postcards From Hell.’ There was only one cover, ‘Oops! I did it Again,’ which was given a standard pop punk-esque make over. For the first few tracks Ali’s vocals were barely audible but overall the mix was better and instruments more balanced than you usually get at the Academy 2. One thing you can always be sure of at a Zebrahead gig is the energy of the crowd, and I’ve not seen such a friendly bunch in a while, feeling more like a party than a gig. The venue was packed and as the 1 and a half hour set progressed the band got sweatier, Ali’s top came off and the Jack Daniels came out. Guys from the other bands came on stage just to get drunk and act as back up singers and dancers. The camaraderie on this tour is clear and enviable. It’s easy going and obvious that they’re just out for a laugh, and who can blame them?!