School of Rock is a new weekly column on Crossfade filling you in on acts playing in town that may be flying under your radar, but shouldn't. Click here for past installments.
When I was but a young teenage wannabe punk rocker, the Queers appealed to me straight away. First, and maybe most importantly as an entry point, they had a name that made parents frown. But more importantly as a sticking point were the Queers' sweet, sweet melodies. They were just rough enough around the edges to make you feel suitably snotty and aggressive by listening to them. But their harmonies and pop structures did a lot to fill the gaping hole created during that awkward teenage period when it was no longer cool to sing along to your parents' Beach Boys records. (Ah, the self-conscious folly of ultra-youth.)
Yes, there was a time when "pop-punk" meant all that -- beachy melodies and choruses over, you know, actual punk rock. Not all these bands with overly complicated names, forced "goofy" promo photos, and ugly neon shirts with huge letters. Seriously -- these are the hair bands of this era, all those musicians and their fans will be embarrassed by it in under two years.
Still, luckily there are still some bands making music that fulfills the original pop-punk promise: a fast-paced, updated digestion of the Ramones and all the delicious power pop, a la the Cars and Costello, that came after it.
One such act is the Leftovers, who hail from Portland, Maine. (Seems kind of weird to us outer-space city slickers, but the Queers themselves come from B.F.E., New Hampshire, after all). Their new album, Eager to Please, is out now, and it's full of the kind of repetitive, catchy, sub-three-minute songs that would have fit in perfectly with everything in the heyday of the sadly defunct Lookout Records. If none of that rings a bell, and you miss Weezer when they still sang about surfing and weren't writing crappy novelty hits, you will also probably dig the Leftovers.
But if you are, in fact, into that great lost era of pop-punk, let's run through all the celebrity approvals of the Leftovers as proof of their awesomeness. Guest appearances on Eager to Please include Kim Shattuck of the Muffs, Brett Anderson of the Donnas, Parry Gripp from Nerf Herder (!), Coz Canler from the Romantics, and Jon Rubin of the Rubinoos. (Fun fact: The Rubinoos are that band that so lamely got ripped off by Avril Lavigne on "her" song "Girlfriend.")
Oh, yeah, remember that Lookout mention? Avowed fans of the band include Lookout founder (and, of course, longtime Maximumrocknroll columnist) Larry Livermore, as well as Lookout-era god Ben Weasel, of Screeching Weasel.
Luckily for you, they open for the Queers at Respectable Street this Saturday. Just another worthy reason to make that trek to Clematis Street. And for the cheapskates out there, the show's only $10.
The Leftovers, with the Queers, TA80, and the Clockouts. Saturday, September 26. Respectable Street, 518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. Show starts at 7:30 p.m., tickets cost $10. All ages. 561-832-9999; respectablestreet.com