September 7, 2010
Pennywise is one of those bands that will never change. They are like the Iron Maiden of the punk rock industry: You know what you’re going to get–be it at their live show or on wax–these guys basically defined the South California hardcore sound and they aren’t about to add keyboards to their line-up or start mellowing out.
So when the band’s singer, Jim Lindberg, threw in the towel last year and left the band for poppier lands (see Black Pacific) it was safe to assume that Pennywise’s bulletproof style might get switched up a bit.
Wrong. Enter Zoli Teglas. The guy sounds like an opera singer fronting the pseudo underground, post-hardcore band Ignite, and looks absolutely nothing like Lindberg. Live, the guy dives around like a bat out of hell and lights up the audience with his vocal prowess. Would the Pennywise fanbase adapt? Well yes and no. Donned in the Pennywise uniform (baggy jeans, baseball hat, scowl), Zoli to the stage at the Starland Ballroom and plowed through a dozen or so classic Pennywise tunes doing a pitch perfect Lindberg impression. Sure, his pipes stretched a bit on singalongs like “Aliens” and “BroHymn,” but for the most part, Teglas just did his job and carried the torch established decades ago by the rest of Pennywise.
The rest of the group were tight as ever. Fletcher creates a wall of power chords as big and powerful as his frame. Byron is a spitfire on the drums, pounding out some of the fiercest punk beats this side of the Mississippi, and Randy Bradbury carries the low end of the rhythm section with driving bass lines on tunes like “Perfect Day.”
Haters can complain that Pennywise should have changed their name or called it quits after Lindberg left the team, but they wouldn’t know the difference between Zoli and Jim if they closed their eyes during the live set. I guess it’s a testament to Zoli’s range and the tightness of the band, but Pennywise isn’t going anywhere and the songs remain the same. I’m just looking forward to the new record to see if Zoli brings a bit of his style to the table.