Thursday 28 August 2008

Be Your Own PET: First and Last - Parker Place 2005 to Dingwalls 2008

From this - Photo: Leia Jospe

To this - Photo by Ponyrock

Be Your Own PET are no more. These Nashville teens arrived, blew me away and entertained me royally in the space of four short years. I was there at the beginning, and I was there for the end.

Let’s compare and contrast. On 23rd March 2005, I saw them play their first London show in Parker Place, Holborn. I filed the following report for Artrocker along with an email that read “I think we’re going to have a lot of fun with this lot.”

‘On Tuesday morning I become aware through my many media tentacles that the hottest band in the entire history of the planet i.e. right NOW are Nashville’s Be Your Own PET (typography important). And that they are playing at Parker Place the following evening.

So I slide down my Bat-pole and 24 hours later I’m in the venue. And so is every music biz hanger-on in London. This is basically a nice quiet new bands night in a nice new (to me) venue. But tonight the circus is in town. There are queues up the street and bouncers on the door.

The venue is as long and thin and crowded as a tube train during rush hour. The stage itself is situated behind a crash barrier and mounted in a kind of Regency dining room at one end. There are chandeliers, mirrors in golden gilt frames, red velvet drapes and chinoiserie screens. It’s fair to say it’s not your normal set up.

Be You Own PET are on first and despite being a little nervous and awkward for the first few numbers, once they hit their rhythm…wow! These teenagers are the long awaited Yeah Yeah Yeahs/ At The Drive In hybrid. Impossibly feisty and cute singer Jemina Pearl screams, rolls her eyes and camps it up like a shopping mall amalgam of Britney Spears and Courtney Love while the hugely afro-ed bassist Nathan Vasquez bounds around like a frog. Furious guitarist Jonas Stein is prettier than any girl in the room and plays as though his life depends on the next thirty seconds.

After about five numbers they have smashed the stage up to such an extent that Jemina is scared to stand on it anymore and comes down to crowd level to finish the set. Single ‘Damn Damn Leash’ is a real stand out, but it’s all good stuff.

Be Your Own PET are so full of naïve charm and youthful excitement that it doesn’t matter that their sound is not the most original. They have got moxie by the bucket load and they are going to make a lot of friends. Tonight they really are the hottest band in the entire history of the planet. And it’s still only Wednesday…’

That was the beginning. I’ve seen them many more times since, and they have never disappointed.

Four years later, on 26 August 2008, I am here in Dingwalls for the end.

The air is heavy with sweat and expectation. Support act The Hot Melts have done a good job in warming things up and various roadies are fiddling with equipment…

…and suddenly Be Your Own PET are onstage. And they are playing the Fleetwood Mac track ‘The Chain’. All hell breaks loose.

Jemina has cut her hair short and daubed her face in red war paint. The guys are all topless and also crop haired. While the singer remains upbeat throughout, her eyes saucer-wide, the others seem rather grumpy.

The set flies by in a thresher’s flail of limbs and hair and bodies and stage divers. There are mixed messages from the band – the guys warn people off, Jemina eggs them on. It’s chaotic and silly and utterly appropriate for this most delinquent of juvenile bands.

“Black Hole” and “Becky” are blasted out, the singer bouncing all over the stage, the guitarists occasionally venturing into the madding crowd. With the screamed “Food Fight” things almost get out of hand, but the boarders are just about repelled.

It’s a losing battle. Once “Super Soaker” is announced as the final song (of what I suspect was intended to be the end of the main set before the encores) an enormous scrum of bodies piles forward. Remember all those hordes of rats that run over Indiana Jones? It’s like that.

You hear the band playing on, Jemina occasionally popping her head between the sweating mass, but then the equipment is crushed and the gig is over. It’s mildly disappointing, but entirely in keeping with their whole career. They are just too much fun to be tidily contained.

Be Your Own PET were a delightful antidote to serious attitudes. They epitomised what it was like to be young and full of life and just wanting a good time at high school before the real world weighs you down.

They were brilliant, messy, and they didn’t stay a moment too long. Thanks for everything, guys.

No comments: