Paul Collins and Peter Case have crafted some of the best guitar rock anthems of all time. This, dear reader, is not up for debate. In 1976, when the two were fresh-faced and in their early twenties, their band The Nerves were responsible for “Hanging On the Telephone,” a song that only two years later charted at #5 in the UK as performed by Blondie. The two split off, with Collins forming the heralded powerpop band The Beat, and Case heading up the equally revered Plimsouls. A post-Nerves collaboration under the name The Breakaways was recently unearthed, after having spent 35 years collecting dust in a garage (the irony of “garage rock” need not be noted).
Summer Twins brought their breezy California pop to the stage at 9:30. The band’s namesake is wrought from sisters Chelsea and Justine Brown, who in addition to providing the ethereal vocals, also serve as the guitarist and drummer. The quartet was rounded out by MarcioRivera on second guitar and Danny Delgado on bass. In the course of the group’s thirty-minute set, the band rarely strayed far from the steady-tempo, sunny and sweet west coast pop they’ve focused on for the last few years, but they still found a way to fit in the occasional fast-paced time change, if only for a few brief moments. Obvious comparisons could be made to Jenny Lewis and her contemporaries the Watson Twins, but why waste time considering parallels when one can enjoy blissful summer pop built over a foundation of golden oldies and classic garage rock?
Paul Collins and Peter Case began a well-received set at 10:20, and in the 70+ minutes that they and their back-up band shared the stage, two dozen songs that were older than many audience members (myself included) were played with an energy that could make Springsteen seem lethargic. What Case lacked in audience interaction was more than supplemented by Collins, who between songs made short quips that were both self-deprecating (digging at the cover price) and steeped in sarcasm (excusing the high eBay prices of the first and only Nerves 7-inch as a product of inflation). One final good-natured jab was made at Collins’ own teenage son before playing “Work-a-Day World,” his kin referenced to as someone who knows not of the topic referred to therein.
Upon meeting the band’s request for the audience to move in closer to the stage, the small size of the crowd was made heartbreakingly clear, as the venue was only close to half capacity. Weeknight shows on a rainy night never do well in this town. This made no difference to those that were there to hear the two, bald, grey-haired, and road weathered in all their greatness, crank out hit after hit with hardly a breath taken between songs. Audience favorites were Plimsouls hit “A Million Miles Away,” The Beat’s “Rock N Roll Girl,” and of course “Hanging On the Telephone.” Sadly, the inclusion of “Many Roads to Follow” and “Different Kind of Girl” was an oversight by the band and never made an appearance in the setlist.
Nearly four decades on, people of all ages will trudge through inclement weather to bounce along to austere pop music about girls. If that doesn’t say something about the importance of quality in songwriting, nothing will.
setlist (source bands aren’t hugely important, as many of these were played under various lineups and band names):
How Long Will It Take (The Plimsouls)
Don’t Wait Up For Me (The Beat)
Great Big World (The Plimsouls)
Little Suzy (The Breakaways)
House On the Hill (The Breakaways)
Work-a-Day World (The Beat)
Women (The Plimsouls)
I Don’t Fit In (The Beat)
Oldest Story in the World (The Plimsouls)
Zero Hour (The Plimsouls)
Give Me Some Time (The Nerves)
Working Too Hard (The Nerves)
When You Find Out (The Nerves)
Let Me Into Your Life (The Beat)
Now (The Nerves)
Rock N Roll Girl (The Beat)
Million Miles Away (The Plimsouls)
USA (The Breakaways)
Hanging On the Telephone (The Nerves)
One Way Ticket (The Nerves)
Paper Dolls (The Nerves)
Do You Wanna Love Me? (The Breakaways)
Everyday Things (The Plimsouls)
Walking Out on Love (The Beat)
By Greg Stitt
Photos By Matt Cook