Be Your Own Pet @ The Bodega, Nottingham, UK, August 30, 2023 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Be Your Own Pet, Fräulein

Be Your Own Pet @ The Bodega, Nottingham, UK, August 30, 2023,

Sep 09, 2023 Web Exclusive
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August is a funny old time for gigs. The over-saturated festival market takes people to numerous fields, not sweaty clubs, cash-strapped folks not able to afford holidays and social life stay, or something like that - it’s a weird time. This is very much illustrated by a two-thirds full Bodega in Nottingham for the return of one of the noughties’ best bands.

Clearly not helped by the immensely early start (you gotta get the bands out the way when a standard indie club night is more lucrative, obviously) incredible two-piece Fräulein should have a much larger crowd for their channelling of early 90s alt-rock. But those here really do dig it!

There’s a lot going on for just two musicians, Karsten van der Tol’s drumming has the rhythmical quirks of the Breeders, at times finding an almost funky groove, while Joni Samuel’s voice has an abstract and powerful abrasiveness that harks back to PJ Harvey at her most rocking. There’s energy and bite to their performance and a batch of songs that deserve attention. If anything deserves a revival it is the 90s rock sounds that Fräulein are turning into their own.

With the place filling up a little (still not enough to match the sheer punk rock bomb that is about to be dropped), the tangible excitement in the room grows amongst those who always understood Nashville teen punks Be Your Own Pet were one of the gems in a sea of skinny-jean indie dullards and landfill bands in the mid-noughties. And here they are again, 15 years on, older and wiser (maybe) but with the same vitriolic spunk and pure punk energy. A band resurrected well before doing anything as dull as getting “old”, BYOP may not be genuine teens any more but their “we’re young, having fun and what the fuck you going to do about?” attitude still remains (well maybe a “who you call an “old band” motherfuckers” attitude, but who cares when it’s all this much fun?)

Even, after a time away, BYOP still represents the vital dumb energy of youth; the excitement, the be-all-and-end-all stakes of minor life issues, and the sheer exuberant blast of it all. Jemina Pearl remains an explosion of energy, a natural performer, who explains that the band have missed the crowd (you feel that sentiment is real). The band always stood out as being authentically themselves, in all their snotty punk glory and tonight’s show is a joy seeing them having grown older but not necessarily “grown-up”.

This is highlighted towards the end of the set with ‘Food Fight’ (from the incredible second album Get Awkward), played with the same abandon and high-stakes anger as they did back then. Not for the first time in the set guitarist Jonas Stein and Pearl enter the crowd to whip up a frenzy, to urge an audience who may feel less than youthly to just think “fuck it” and get stuck in. The lyrics are dumb but cathartic, “Sucks for the janitor, fight on”, the band shout, “You gotta stand your fucking ground. Fight on.” A song about a dumb food fight is a clarion call for angry expression to one of the most kinetic punk tunes known to anyone. It’s a gift.

And all in all, the musicianship from Stein (guitar), Nathan Vasquez (bass) and John Eatherly (drums) is tighter these days, and while the sloppy energy of the last time I saw them in 2008 is gone, gained experience drives a meatier sound that loses none of its punch. On new tracks like ‘Worship the Whip’ this all comes together, with new shades of complexity coming into the performance, especially in the rhythms.

But as with any nostalgia acts (dare we call them that? Are they old enough to be called that?) it is the “classics” that get the biggest response. Some of us have been waiting well over a decade to hear these songs again, and we aren’t disappointed. Their big “hit’ ‘Adventure’, the song that got them wrongly lumped in with bands like Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, is a perfect rendition of one of the best indie singles of the era, while early cut ‘Bicycle, Bicycle, You are my bicycle’ is a joyous bout of teen nonsense, for anyone who has ever dicked about on bikes. ‘Becky’ remains the most poignant piece of high school bitchy revenge (I always hoped it was all real and this was the real Becky’s legacy). It’s hard not to smile as the lyrics jokingly suggest kicking her ass, and the group chant “We don’t like Becky any more” into the room. Becky is still scolded for life.

‘Heartthrob’ remains the perfect ode to the chaotic mess of attraction, part garage bop and part hardcore blast with a soulful, gritty vocal performance; it is a bouncy wonder, evoking simple visions of teenage lust. The reality is that every one of these songs is a certified banger, and a sloppy version of The Damned’s ‘Neat, Neat, Neat’ as an encore is a perfect nod to their roots but in a way that makes it their own (the last band I saw cover this song in the Bodega was Melt Banana, and this cover is just as exciting).

BYOP are back, different but the same and in many ways better than they ever have been. The new album is exactly what it needed to be and you need to see them as soon as you can. They are still one of the most underrated punk bands around.


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