A Fat Wreck in the Desert

The compilation is a time honored tradition to find new music on the music labels you know. Labels have been doing it for decades now, giving you a sampling of artists and tracks off of their latest release. There were countless labels with each their own, like Punk-O-Rama and Fat Music for Fat People. A time honored tradition these days by many labels that have transitioned to doing comps digitally. In a similar fashion, you can find a few labels putting together a tour package of their latest album releasing artists. One of my favorite, and always strong ones, is the Fat Wreck Tours. This year’s is no different, bringing Teenage Bottlerocket, Mean Jeans, Clowns, and Jen, of the Bombpops, to town with our local Reason Unknown opening up.

Reason Unknown represented our sole locals too. Avoiding being alone in not playing new music, they mixed in a few off of their upcoming album they are currently on. The crowd seemed receptive, and a couple already drunk as they bounced off each other.

A bearded gentleman appeared to be reciting lyrics back to Pat occasionally. Of course, it may have been only Pat because whenever Travis did leads he was on the other side of the all ages barricade. It made for entertaining enthusiasm early on with Reason Unknown.

Then for the first part of the Fat Wreck Tour package, Jen Pop, from the Bombpops, treated concert goers to her solo acoustic set. A few were familiar Bombpops tracks to those familiar with their catalog. In addition, there were five new songs she had written. She mentioned not all may make the new Bombpops album to keep expectations in check.

However, this added to the cool factor to hear her work removed from the band. This made for the second occasion I’ve caught her play acoustic this year, as a part of the Vagabonnies tour prior. This time again, Jen Pop making a good case for this to be a continuing thing.

Next was Clowns, a band that reckons all the way from Australia and currently holds my favorite album of 2019. With that latest album, “Nature/Nurture,” already creating lofty expectations, I had to wonder what was to occur live. They delivered and they delivered strong. Of course, if you read this site, you already know I am a fan of high energy front men and Clowns’ lead vocalist, Stevie, brought it. At one point he moved into the crowd, mic stand and all, then leaped over the barricade to serenade the all ages section.

Later on, he would hang by his legs from Pub Rock’s newly exposed beams while continuing to sing through the microphone. What energy his bandmates may have not matched of Stevie’s own, they made up in happy expressions frequently seen on the faces of Hanny, Jarrod, and the rest. With the performance Clowns put on, it was hard to believe they were only the midway point of our night.

Following that was a band I had waited three years for their return to Phoenix, the Mean Jeans. Riding another superb album only a day released, they brought their unique style of Ramones inspired punk rock. One change since the last time they visited Phoenix was Junior Jeans now resides in Austin, but had his spot filled on magnificently on this tour by Ian Jeans.

The set blended new tracks and old, with a few of the self-made jingles from their last album. Christian threateningly joked not to play the Coors Light jingle because maybe Scottsdale was more of a Miller Lite town. This kind of humor is the charm that permeates their music and a reason I love every faucet of this band. Seeing the Mean Jeans once again was a blast and no question the perfect complement in punk rock sound to our headliners.

Teenage Bottlerocket made it known they were there to make another memorable mark on everyone’s night from the get go. Leading off with “Bloodbath at Burger King” only further got the crowd into a further excitement. This was where the pit met the all age’s barricade, knocking against it with regularity. Ray and Miggy were clearly feeding off the energy of everyone around. Multiple times I watched as Ray would lean out to the audience, occasionally high fiving and fist bumping.  Kody was rocking the mic with his iconic voice on the tracks he sings lead, like “Skate or Die” and “Headbanger.”

They put together a rocking hour and a half set of new music off of their 2019 release “Stay Rad!” and old favorites like mentioned above. If anyone felt they had to make up for the two year gap since their last visit, then this set washed away any concerns. Teenage Bottlerocket brought the energy and magic of another fantastic set to close out the desert stop for this year’s Fat Wreck Tour.

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