PEARS - Live in Denver (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Live in Denver (2016)

live show

It was a Wednesday, it was two days before I had to cover Riot Fest, I had had a long day, and then I remembered that I had bought tickets to PEARS. I was almost ready to skip it. Don’t get me wrong, I love PEARS’ music, but I was not in the mood for a concert. Add to that the fact that, while I love their recorded material, the first time I saw PEARS (which was just a few months ago opening for Subhumans, a show I also reviewed on this site) Zach Quinn’s stage performance was so over-the-top and forced, it almost ruined the band for me. But I already paid for the ticket, and I hate wasting money, so I went.

First of all, I found it hilarious that they were playing at Moe’s Original Barbecue, a chain restaurant that I’m sure many of you are familiar with. The location in Englewood, a suburb of Denver, has a stage in the back, but it’s not normally the kind of place you go to see a nationally touring band signed to one of the bigger punk labels out there today. Moe’s is usually where you go to see your co-worker’s band play their second show ever, which literally describes the last time I was at Moe’s for a show. So a band like PEARS playing there was kind of amazing.

Last time I saw them, I felt like Quinn’s antics seemed like he was trying to play the role of a hardcore frontman the way he thought a frontman had to act by watching movies or television shows. Nothing about it felt natural, especially the moments when he kept shoving the base of the microphone stand towards the audience. But as soon as PEARS started up this time, I knew that things were going to be different.

The biggest difference between the two shows was Quinn’s ability to take himself less seriously. His movements were still exaggerated, but where, at the Subhumans show, he looked like a bad joke that he wasn’t in on, this time he was in on the joke. One of my favorite things that he seemed to like to do while performing was to fold his hands under his chin like Shirley Temple trying to look cute for the camera. His energy was hyper and manic, but most importantly he was having fun and being funny. PEARS is the most innovative and revolutionary punk band to come along in a long time, but a big part of their appeal is how they seem to be serious and funny at the exact same time. Much more than the first time I saw them, Quinn's performance embodied that dialectic.

After this performance, I’m willing to chalk up the Subhumans show to an off night, or perhaps just the pressure of opening for such a legendary band. As the headliner in a venue that normally just books small local acts, PEARS, and especially Quinn, seemed to feel far more at home, and their talents shined through.