Wheatus will always be known as Teenage Dirtbags, which can be placed in the for and against columns if asked whether you'd like to have a single that everyone will know. There is a slight feeling of embarrassment about this, and as the band stand there in front of the Oxford crowd, lead singer/guitarist and possibly one of the only members of the band that people recognise, Brendan B Brown, stands there like a cross between Bowling For Soups' Jaret Reddick and Madcap Police Academy star, Bobcat Goldthwait, in that funny and goofy way. He blasts into a quick and speeded up version of 'Teenage Dirtbag', before stopping in mid flow and saying, "You don't want to hear that do you?"
Following on from a great performance by Army Of Freshmen, Wheatus are considered a heavy-weight band here as they are probably one of the only bands that someone in your office has ever heard of – even if they consider them Heavy Metal *ahem*. They jump into 'Hump 'Em 'N Dump 'Em' which builds up from a slow song into a real hum-dinger of a sing-a-long with a predominantly keyboard-led melodies and accompanying Brendan's nasal vocals we have the two backing singers Liz Brown and Connie Renda. Next is the song 'BMX Bandits', which if you didn't know was the Australian movie with a young Nicole Kidman and her two male friends who thwart some walkie-talkie smugglers whilst showing off some hip and groovy BMX stunts along the way. Judging by the lyrics the band were as obsessed with the movie as much as I was, with the lyrics, "Nicole, you stole my soul, with your cute little bunny hop!".
Brendon then gives us a Jaret Reddick moment as he wanders over to drummer Kevin Garcia – who incidentally is playing the drums at the side of the stage, which as a drummer I must confess to being impressed with, instead of being lost at the back of the stage, where Gerard Hoffmann, the keyboard-tinkler is – and proclaims the revelation that Kevin has managed to kill a fly with a drum stick. As the crowd are filled up with youngsters who can barely remember 'Teenage Dirtbag', let alone alive in 1983 when BMX Bandits came out, it's not surprising that they chant, "Eat it! Eat it!". Never being a guy to back down from a challenge Brendon gets a member of the audience to eat half first, before eating the other half himself. "This is like one of those reality tv things, where celebrities have to eat ass," he says. "Well fuck reality tv!" Never a more true word spoken in jest, sir!
Again Wheatus admit to us at how bored they are with some of their hits, and of course as you will remember their cover of Erasure's 'Respect' was another song that got a lot of airplay, and so thrust in with a fast and speeded up version that could be best described as acoustic punk! We then have one of my favourite songs from their first album, 'Hey Mr Brown' which is another fast catchy number suggesting that Mr Brown 'doesn't have a cow', which is good advice to anyone I'd say, before things slow down for the first verse of the wonderful 'Lemonade' before things jump up to a more mid-tempo beat. It's songs like this that make you forget that behind the goofy-pop exterior there are some quite dirty lyrics that come out so flippantly and in a beautiful harmony that they are easily missed – that itself is pure genius.
Things finish off with the obvious 'Teenage Dirtbag' and it's only then that you realise that although the crowd are predominantly Wheatus fans, and have been singing along to the songs, this bands signature tune is sung so loud that the whole of the band look embarrassed and slightly uncomfortable. At the end Brendon applauds and says, "We've not had a song on the radio for 5 years – and look at how many people are out here tonight!" and these are all facts. Yes, this line up of bands has come of from touring with Bowling For Soup, but the majority of people are here to see Wheatus, a band that for a while it seemed like the music industry had forgotten.
It's always interesting to listen to Wheatus, and they are one of those bands that are under-rated, and when you hear their music you ask yourself why you don't listen to it more. Live they are fun and lively and the musical style is very pop mixed with a little pop/punk and a heavy dose of 70's glam, and that's alright with me. Army Of Freshmen may've just pipped them to being the best band tonight, but Wheatus are miles ahead of both the pop/punk of Punchline, and the dated sound of tonight's headliner, MC Lars.