Backyard Babies (courtesy of myspace.com/backyardbabies)
I was caught off guard the night of Feb. 10 by some sort of speedy Swedish gear-switching that left me still in the bar with half a tall glass of Pabst in my hand when the Backyard Babies from Stockholm took the stage at In the Venue and struck their first notes in support of Social Distortion.
I figured I had at least 10 more minutes until Mike McColgan and the Street Dogs cleared their Irish amps from the stage to make way for these gritty Swedes, but I was mistaken (or drunk and not paying attention to how much time I had). Nevertheless, although I wanted to be out in the crowd for the beginning of the Babies’ set, I was stuck in the bar, watching the first two songs through the grates while I hurriedly downed my beverage.
I could still see fairly well, though, and what I spied and heard was a mix of the comedic and the confusing. The Babies all looked like they were 80, and all dressed as if prepared to shoot through a blistering set of Motley Crue covers. Lead singer/guitarist Nicke Something Swedish sauntered onto the stage donning a leather fedora and flung it off towards the drum kit with reckless abandon during the first song to reveal an Axl Rose-like bandana. I finished my drink, threw my plastic cup behind me as haphazardly as possible, mimicking the singer and pissing off some burly oi! punker from whose sight I made it a point to quickly disappear, and squeezed out into the crowd.
The Backyard Babies play a sort of rock-with-punk-edge (what is a punk edge nowadays?…whatever). One Man Army and yes, Social Distortion, but seem to lack the charisma and outright believability of those two prior-mentioned bands. This made sense to me later when I asked myself, "How hardcore can you really be living in a country with socialized medicine, education, virtually no poverty, etc.?" The set fell as flat as many of the chests of the 16-year-old girls there to oogle Mike Ness (someone who looks like he’s 80 but is still goddamned sexy). All of the energy that the Street Dogs had built up in the air was gone, and as I entered the fray of the front and where the pit should have been, I heard yells like, "Fuck you, Nirvana," and "Hey, it’s Spinal Tap!" There were a couple people dancing toward the back, but I think they might have been the band’s parents, judging by their crunched postures and paunches.
I spent the rest of the set near the front lamenting my place in time and space and getting yelled at by jock bouncers because I was taking flash pictures without a press pass. The one here is not the most flattering (although I’m not entirely sure how much visual flattery this band could make use of) but it is one of the only ones without a big ugly bouncer face and flashlight glare in the middle of it. What a display of punk-fucking rock. The Babies finished their set with sweat dripping down their leather pants and porkchop sideburns, and by that time I had become so bummed out by the whole debacle that I only watched a few songs from the Social D set and went home, where I decided I should start listening to more hip-hop.