It’s been a while since there’s been an opportunity to write one of these. The last show I photographed was at the end of 2019. The last show I covered for The New Fury was in 2015. The pandemic changed a lot of things and here I am, back contributing to one of the first outlets to take me in (before it was even TNF!). Historic Nashville venue Exit/In (celebrating their 50th anniversary!) started hosting outdoor shows to ease back into things and it was very exciting to see Teenage Bottlerocket amongst the first shows announced. I’ve seen Teenage Bottlerocket a ton of times, but it has always been at FEST in Gainesville, so it was a treat to finally catch the band doing a proper headlining set.
The night started off with Nashville locals Second Self, who hit the stage while the sun was still bright and the crowd was still piling into the outdoor space Exit/In created for shows. The punk quartet could easily find themselves likened to a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater soundtrack, ripping through riffs that you would expect from Lagwagon or Bad Religion. The band seemed to have a blast on stage and closed out their set with a ferocious cover of Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades”.
MakeWar, who I have managed to miss every time they’ve been through Nashville or in Gainesville for FEST, are sharing the road with Teenage Bottlerocket and it was rad finally having the chance to see and photograph them. The band came out just as dusk was setting in, setting the mood for a half hour of punk rock bliss. A lot of the time a three piece band leaves something to be desired – but MakeWar hit the spot, from their energetic and playful stage presence, to all three members sharing vocal duties throughout the set.
Fresh off of the announcement of their new album, Sick Sesh!, Teenage Bottlerocket wasted no time pounding out “Freak Out” and then thrashing through a career spanning setlist, which of course included their newest single, “Ghost Story”. Ray Rocket provided his classic high jumps all throughout the set while bassist Miguel Chen held down the low end, by frequently being as low as possible – all while making for some of the best photos of the night with the incredible faces he makes while playing. This kind of high energy, chaotic performance was exactly what I needed after spending the last year and a half at home reliving my youth through YouTube videos. Be sure to preorder Sick Sesh! here, get vaccinated, and get out to a show to help support musicians – it’s been a rough time for everyone.