The Living End, In the Whale, and King Rat at the Marquis Theater in Denver, CO on 9/7/17.

The Living End’s Chris Cheney

I saw The Living End during The Aussie Invasion Tour in 2004 opening for fellow Australian rockers The Vines (their hit was Ride) and Jet (their hit was Are You Gonna Be My Girl). The Living End blew them off the stage. I remember vividly singer/guitar slinger Chris Cheney grabbing a full bottle of open beer and using it for a guitar solo splattering the crowd. When the song was over, he handed the remaining suds to a teenager in the front row. Besides breaking the law by distributing alcohol to a minor, Cheney made me a fan.

Seventeen-years later the band is still at it. Their new album Shift contains some of their best songs and their live show is even more captivating.

The Living End

The 42-year-old Chris Cheney has been playing with stand up bass player Scott Owen since they were both fourteen years old in Melbourne, Australia. They started out mainly playing Stray Cats rockabilly songs, but were inspired to create politically motivated material. During the show Cheney said, “We wrote songs against the Australian government. They’re now more relevant to you mother f*ckers.” Their new material is more personal. Their song With Enemies Like That is a slow tear jerker about reminiscing about the past – So turn on the 8-track play it round again/Take another ride and remember when/There was never wrong or right, just a feeling in the night.” Following that sweet slow ballad, Cheney yelled, “That was a song for lovers. Now here is a song for all the f*cking haters.” That’s when the crowd appeared to jump up and down as one to Monday about a 1996 massacre in an elementary school in Scotland. Confessing to the crowd that they used to be a cover band, The Living End did a flawless version of Buddy Holly’s That’ll Be the Day. It demonstrated the band’s range and why the Australian rockers have been around for over twenty-two years. Their song Prisoners of Society had the crowd chanting, “We don’t need no one to tell us what to do.”  Despite the decree, the crowd left the venue politely when asked to vacate at the end of show.

In the Whale’s Nate Valdez

Before the Australian rebellion started, Denver’s own punk duo In the Whale performed. Lead singer/guitar player Nate Valdez and singer/drummer Eric Riley won over the crowd with their raw explosive sound. Songs about Evel Knievel, galaxies, and lakes of fire made the crowd move and their ears start to ring. Riley asked the old school The Living End fans to come out of mosh retirement for their song Girlfriend. I declined. A surprising version of Thank You for Being a Friend (The Golden Girls theme song) was sung by Eric Riley. It’s a surreal moment when a drummer from a punk band starts to sing, “Your Heart is true/Your a pal and a confidant.” At the end of their set, the duo asked the crowd to fund their upcoming cross country tour by purchasing some merchandise. A guy standing behind me bought an In the Whale skateboard.  He said proudly, “I don’t even skate, but they signed it.” The combination of music and commerce is powerful.

King Rat – All photos by the rock and roll princess

King Rat was the first band on the bill. The punk band has been playing two and half minute songs consisting of three chords and the truth to Denver audiences for over two decades. Lead singer Luke Schmaltz combined his love for punk music and humor into songs about rebellion that are hilarious. He turned his outrage about the alarming increase of Colorado transplants into a song entitled Go Back to California. A rail thin intoxicated punk fan was dancing to the band like no one was watching except everybody was watching.

See you at the next show. I’ll be the one demanding more Buddy Holly and Golden Girls covers.

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