The Briefs / the Punk Group - live in Portland (Cover Artwork)

The Briefs / the Punk Group

live in Portland (2006)

live show

Sometimes I kick myself for being behind the times on really good bands. I hadn't heard the Briefs until the other day when I saw they were coming to town, and after reading up on a couple reviews on Punknews and downloading some MP3s, I was hooked. For five bucks at a venue two blocks away, I couldn't complain at all.

The doors for the show were at 8:30 and the show was technically supposed to start at 9:30, but the first band didn't go on until 10:30. The first band was...the Konami Defense System. Let me paint you a picture of this one: Four kids get on stage, all look under the 21 years you had to be to get into the show. One picks up a keytar. Yes, a keytar. Another gets behind a keyboard. The lead singer is wearing a shirt that says "All Your Base Are Belong To Us." (For those of you out of the internet fad loop, that was a huge flash animated video from maybe 2001.)

So the Defense System plays songs that remind me sort of like Neon Blonde, but with more Blood Brothers in the vocals and more Devo in the music (if that makes any sense). You can listen to some tunes on their Myspace page and just imagine that but a lot louder. The lead singer took his on-stage antics directly from the book of Geoff of Thursday, and it's quite hard to not laugh at a band whose lead keytarist holds the instrument up in the air and makes that "I'm doing such a killer solo" face while he keys the last two notes on the thing over and over. Lots of screaming vocals and I'm sure they all had to do with the heartbreak Mario must have faced when Princess Toadstool kept making him dodge turtles and goombas for her, but I guess that's just the way life goes sometimes.

Next up was another local group, the Punk Group. It's really hard to describe the awesomeness this band contained as far as a live show goes. If you listen to their music (streaming audio available on their site), it's two guys and a synth / non-drummer. They play in the style of old punk but the lyrics are just very straightforward, generally one or two lines per song. They each had white sunglasses on for the entire set, and remained perfectly expressionless the entire time. I'd never heard them before, and so it was just sort of a treat to see a band that took themselves just seriously enough to be funny, but not seriously enough to be pretentious or idiotic. And songs like "Fat Girls on Bicycles," "Toby Keith," and "F-U-C-K-Y-O-U" just keep you laughing, repetetive as they are.

Next up was the Briefs, and they put on a hell of a live show. Again, I wasn't familiar with the material, but I picked up a copy of Sex Objects after the show, and even the sound they have on CD doesn't compare to the live show. This stuff was as fast and furious, Paul Walker style. They commanded the relatively small stage, rarely stopping through the unfortunately short set. While they only played for 40 minutes, they squeezed in quite a few gems, never letting up and providing more energy on stage than the drunk crowd on the floor, all sort of awkwardly jumping around and crashing into things.

So, if you're a fan of good old fast punk rock, check out the Briefs on tour if you can. As with every live show, I've gotta find something to complain about, so how about $4.50 for a screwdriver? I mean, it was a $5 show, and for the gasoline they passed off as house vodka you can buy a good half gallon of it for the $5.50 I ended up giving the bartender for a single drink. I know it's even worse in major metropolitan areas, but it seemed a bit lame.

Anyway, Konami Defense System gets 5/10 for trying and being relatively entertaining, Punk Group 8/10 and the Briefs a solid 10, and I have no clue what that averages out to, but I'll give the show an 8 for kicks.