For a band that has been piggybacking off the success of one sole song for the past thirteen years, it was very impressive to see the large turnout for the Wheatus gig in Bridgend, considering that there were probably quite a few people who only really wanted to hear one song of theirs! There was a very respectable queue of people outside the venue before the doors had even opened, and the venue was already a hubbub of activity by the time Gabrielle Sterbenz took to the stage.
Joined by fellow Wheatus backing vocalist Elizabeth, the music the pair of them played sounded a little more like background music than anything else, and none of their stuff was particularly memorable. They definitely weren’t bad, and the pair of them worked well together as a way to begin the night, but it wasn’t really the most engaging of performances.
Next up was The Ventura Project. Another two piece (which also featured Wheatus’ bassist Matthew), they played to a backing track and their music sounded very upbeat and catchy with the addition of extra music in the background. Although Joey’s crowd participation skills were not the best, with her introducing songs by simply saying things like “this is our xth song” or even just “this is a song”, it was quite an enjoyable set and their music had a lot of good vibes.
Main support on the night came from the always-awesome MC Lars, who came onstage and introduced himself simply by saying “I’m MC Lars…and I’m here to play rap!” With his Legend Of Zelda NES cartridge round his neck on a chain, it was probably apparent that he wasn’t just your average rapper and he swiftly had the whole crowd eating out of his hands. By the time his second track, 21 Concepts (But A Hit Ain’t One) began, he even ventured into the crowd to start a mosh pit! One of the highlights of the set was the inclusion of Signing Emo, with him requesting the crowd to scream “die” at specific points of the track!
Some of the Wheatus guys joined him for the latter half of his set and his completely improvised rap about things people held up in the air which made for an extremely entertaining part of the night! He finished his set to roaring cheers from the crowd and you can be sure he gained a few new fans from the Wheatus crowd! It was a little disappointing that 35 Laurel Drive wasn’t in his set, but considering his drummer didn’t come on this tour, you can understand why – as the song is simply about his messy house!
Of course, it has to be said that most people were in attendance to see Wheatus. Opening their set by ‘soundchecking’ a snippet of the end of Teenage Dirtbag (the teases!), frontman Brendan then proclaimed that the band doesn’t “do” setlists and started taking requests from the crowd. He had a very easy-going attitude when it came to crowd interaction and the banter was great as a result.
Naturally, the set was littered with lots of old favourites such as Wannabe Gangstar, Truffles, Hey Mr Brown and Leroy, but one of the tracks that got the biggest cheers was their ‘other’ hit, A Little Respect. Unfortunately, for some reason the band played it at a slightly lower tempo which gave the track a slightly strange feel to it and meant the song wasn’t quite as good as it could have been.
Wheatus also played two great covers in addition to A Little Respect, a rendition of Green Day’s Basket Case and also a cover of One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful! Whether their choice to include a One Direction cover was a direct response to their absolutely awful Teenage Dirtbag cover remains to be seen, but either way it kicked the original version down to the kerb!
To give credit to the crowd, every single track Wheatus played was greeted with nothing but enthusiasm, even though we were probably all waiting for the same song, but when it reached the point of the night when it was finally time for Teenage Dirtbag, the roof just lifted from the roar of cheers. With MC Lars joining the guys for good measure, he even rapped a brand new section on it, which gave the classic a brand new spin.
It was an overall fun night, with Wheatus proving that they’ve still got it – even if they’re more ‘middle-aged’ dirtbags rather than the teenage dirtbags they once were!