Saturday, April 21 , 2018, 7:04 pm | Fair 70º

 
 
 
 

Jeff Moehlis: Buzzcocks Pump Up Fans with Pop Punk Classics

Legendary songs from a legendary band in San Luis Obispo

The Coachella spillover has been particularly strong this year, with Santa Barbara shows by Radiohead (if you could get tickets), Florence and the Machine, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, tUnE-yArDs, Grouplove and M. Ward, all in the area for the festival in the desert.

And if you were crazy enough to make the nighttime drive, like I was, you could’ve caught the Buzzcocks at the SLO Brewing Company in San Luis Obispo last Sunday night.

First, a bit of history. The Buzzcocks are a hugely influential band from Manchester, England, that produced the blueprint for pop punk. The Buzzcocks also jump-started the punk do-it-yourself ethos with their debut 1977 self-released Spiral Scratch EP.  And their compilation Singles Going Steady is regularly ranked as one of the best punk rock albums of all time. They broke up in 1981, but original members Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle reunited in the late-1980s, and they have been going strong ever since — now with Danny Farrant on bass guitar and Chris Remington on drums.

While I’m sure it’s fun to see the Buzzcocks at a big festival like Coachella, there’s something magical about seeing them in a small, sweaty club like the SLO Brewing Company. Punks both young and old were up close and personal with the band, jumping, pushing and screaming along to the songs — including some bona fide hits such as “Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t've)” and “Promises” — played at ear-splitting volume.

Like the band, the show started with “Boredom,” a track off their Spiral Scratch EP and a one-word answer to why the band formed in the first place. This was rapidly followed by some choice cuts off their first album, Another Music in a Different Kitchen — two of my favorites, “Fast Cars” and “I Don’t Mind,” plus “Autonomy” and “Get On Our Own.”

Nearly all of the songs on the program were from their late-‘70s/early-‘80s heyday, with lots of highlights, such as Spiral Scratch’s “Breakdown,” the take-no-prisoners “Harmony in the Head,” the infectious “What Do I Get?” and the outrageous “Orgasm Addict,” which closed the show. The one newer song was “Sick City Sometimes” about the World Trade Center attacks and featuring a classic Buzzcocks sound.

When I asked Steve Digglev what we could look forward to for the show, without hesitation he responded, “Legendary songs from a legendary band.” Well said and well played, mate!

Setlist

Boredom
Fast Cars
I Don’t Mind
Autonomy
Get On Our Own
Whatever Happened To?
Why She’s the Girl from the Chainstore
Sick City Sometimes
Moving Away from the Pulsebeat
Nothing Left
Noise Annoys
Breakdown
Promises
Love You More
What Do I Get?
Harmony in the Head
Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t've)
Orgasm Addict

Noozhawk contributing writer Jeff Moehlis is a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.

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