Tag Archives: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

Concert Review: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes / Masked Intruder / Pears – House of Blues – Cleveland, OH – 04/12/2017

It’s not every day that you hear a cover band sold out a venue on a Wednesday, but that is exactly what happened last night at the House of Blues in Cleveland.

This honestly wasn’t a fluke though seeing how said covers band was none other than punk rock supergroup Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.

If I am not mistaken, the last time the Gimmes even played Cleveland was back in 2003 at the Warped Tour, so this was a pretty big deal to all of the Gimmes fans out there.  Needless to say, I was pretty stoked myself to see they were coming back to my hometown with special guests Pears and Masked Intruder.

The Gimmes roster consists of Spike Slawson (Uke Hunt / Swingin Utters), Joey Cape (Lagwagon), Fat Mike (NOFX), Chris Shiflett (No Use For A Name / Foo Fighters), and Dave Raun (Lagwagon).  They have been covering various tunes for over 20 years now and do not take themselves very seriously at all.  The result is an overdose of fun covers of songs with a punk edge that in incredibly addicting  They have 8 covers albums out now featuring all sorts of genres of music and were bold enough to just release a “Greatestest Hits” album.

The one ever so slight downfall with this leg of the tour was that Fat Mike was not playing due to scheduling conflicts, but Jay Bentley from Bad Religion was filling in on bass duties, so there were no complaints from me.  Chris Shiflett also was not playing this stretch of shows, but his brother and Face To Face guitarist, Scott Shiflett was filling in.  If you notice the photo of the flier above, you’ll see that they even took the liberty of photoshopping Jay and Scott in appropriately.

The House of Blues slowly filled up before the show started with big thanks to the Cavs and Indians games both going on at the same time making for parking to be a pricey nightmare.  People of all ages even including some kids with their punk rock folks were hanging about.  I really liked seeing such a variety of fans.

New Orleans hardcore punkers Pears started the night off with a pretty insane set.  Sadly, I think less than 10 people were really into them and the rest were just trying to get their place in the pit for the other bands on the bill.  Those Pears fans did sing along to every single song and had a hell of a time.  Vocalist Zach Quinn noticed this and at one time jumped out into the crowd to hang out with his fans.

I am not sure the crowd really was digging what Pears were playing as many seemed to just observe and take in their set, but when the band played a cover of “Judy is a Punk”, the place erupted.  Playing a few songs off last year’s Green Star as well as some from their debut Go To Prison, I really dug what I heard and was reminded that I really need to listen to them more.

Masked Intruder took stage with Officer Bradford, but there was a noticeable inconsistency.  Red was missing.  Apparently Red was serving time for picking pockets, but  Big Luke Ferguson from Lipstick Homicide was filling in on drumming duties.  Jarret Nathen from Pears actually filled in for one song too.

Blowing through songs like “I Fought the Law”, “I Don’t Wanna Be Alone Tonight”, and “Saturday Night Alone”, the crowd was robbed of all of their attention by the masked musicians and were perfectly ok with it.

Blue at one point instructed the crowd put their hands up in the air and then the band proceeded to played “Stick Em Up”.  There is nothing quite like a sing along with plenty of profanity.

Officer Bradford did his thing throughout the set and at the end pulled a Har Mar Superstar and shed his uniform to reveal a singlet that showed off all of his manly curves.  His stage charisma is like Ben Carr from The Mighty Mighty Bosstones in a sense,  but far crazier.

Between the dance party going on in the pit with fans and Green,  Officer Bradford dancing with the kids who were lucky enough to stand on the backside of the crowd barriers, and even a “literal” gracious mention by Blue to some “Grilled Cheese Sandwiches” place, the band kept the Cleveland crowd wanting much, much more once they finished off their final song of the night, “I Don’t Want to Say Goodbye to You Tonight”.

As this was my first time seeing Masked Intruder after missing countless opportunities before, I was impressed.  The Daft Punk of pop punk were hilarious throughout and sounded pretty great live.

The Gimmes took the stage just around 10pm to a packed house and started playing “Summertime” with Spike running onto the stage dressed to impress.  From there, it was an all out party with the band dipping into their huge catalog of covers.

I was so stoked to hear “Jolene” and “Rocket Man” as well as “End of the Road” all in one night.  The band looked comfortable playing on stage and were just having as much fun as possible.

The Gimmies rocked out their version of the Beach Boy’s “Sloop John B” and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” with the crowd singing along loudly.  They also gave Barry Manilow props for announcing to the world the truth before playing “Mandy”.

Cape and Shiflett basically manned the sides of the stage throughout the show.  Cape at times would just vanish leaving Spike to ask if anyone had seen him while Shiflett was just rocking out and having a good ol’ time with Bentley.

At one point during the set, Spike started rambling off a story about another venue in Cleveland he played at with another one of his bands where a awfully friendly man offered to pleasure him out front.  He was quick to admit it was Now That’s Class.

Bentley had me cracking up tons during the set.  When it was not his turn to play, he would pretend to start playing, hesitate, make faces, and then jump into action.  You could tell he really was enjoying the night.  At one point when Spike was shamelessly putting in a plug for Rake It In: The Greatestest Hits album that just came out, a fan in the front row held up the LP and Bentley took it from him.  The fan thought he was just going to hold it up for all to see, which he did, but then put it on the drum stage and left it there until after the set.  He eventually gave it back, but not before Bentley told the fan he would have to buy another copy.

As a special treat, Spike performed a couple of times with a plugged-in ukulele including a song from his other band Uke-Hunt as well as an amazing, intimate cover of Madonna’s “Crazy For You” and also “I Believe I can Fly” with Shiflett playing a Hawaiian riff with eventually the rest of the band kicking in.

With plenty of comedic banter between the bunch, they interacted with the crowd frequently, cracked jokes, and bashed current events just making for just a fun set.  It was like NOFX, but far less wasted.

After leaving the stage only to come back for a four song encore, the band called it a night, but not before thanking the crowd and handing off picks, drumsticks, and setlists to a few lucky fans.

I have to admit, I was kind of worried before the show after hearing that their Pittsburgh show had a shorter set the night before, but the Gimmes played for almost 2 hours.  The full setlist is listed below.

It was a  solid night for punk rock tunes with friends and fans alike thanks to a trio of Fat Wreck Chords bands.  It was my first time seeing all three bands, and I was thoroughly entertained.

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes Set List:
“Jet Plane”
“Who Put the Bomp”
“Science Fiction”
“Ghost Riders”
“Sloop John B”
“Danny’s Song”
“Country Roads”
“Crazy For You”
“I Believe I Can Fly”
“Isn’t She Lovely”
“Over the Rainbow”
“Rocket Man”
“Straight Up”
“Different Drum”
Spike playing the Uke
“All My Lovin'”
“I Will Survive”
“Sweet Caroline”
“End of the Road”

Click on a photo below to open the slideshow:

Album Review: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – Sing In Japanese

Leave it to punk-rock-superstar-cover-project-extraordinaires Me First and the Gimme Gimmes to make America look good.  Usually us U.S. folk will see Japanese bands covering American tunes, but when is the last time you saw someone from the states actually take the time to cover a Japanese pop song as well as turn it into a punk rock jam?

The Gimmes have been making covering songs cool since the 90s with help from Fat Wreck Chords.  Featuring members of NOFX, Swingin’ Utters and even Foo Fighters, the Gimmes are not your Friday night hole-in-the-wall cover band.  By taking tracks your parents and probably grandparents listened to before you were accidentally conceived, the Gimmes add a punk rock style and make the songs tolerable.  I remember the first time I heard the Gimmes cover  Elton John’s”Rocket Man”.  I found the track on a free comp CD I snagged at a Warped Tour in ’96 and I was hooked instantly.

On the bands newest EP Sing In Japanese, the Gimmes decided to cover a new territory of music and once again add their own punk rock flair while doing so.  Having covered many different genres of music in the past (including country, Broadway tunes and adult contemporary), it was no surprise the the boys in the Gimmes would eventually try something a tad more challenging.  The result is a catchy culture crossing take on songs more likely sung along to in the bars of Japan.

“Hero” started off the EP with the Gimmes covering a Kai Band song.  Lead vocalist Spike Slawson did not hesitate at all while singing this track in Japanese.  While listening I read the band’s bio for this release and learned that Spike actually learned Japanese phonetically thanks to a friend of Fat Mike.  I have to admit, I was impressed to learn that.

With a clever Social D “Story Of My Life” intro, the cover of the 70’s hit “Kekkon Shiyou Yo” (“Let’s Get Married”) by Takuro Yoshida was actually a lot of fun to listen to.

“C-C-C” mixed in Japanese and English lyrics into the song originally recorded by the early 70s Beatles-inspired band called The Tigers.  The track, although I could only understand 50% of it, it was my favorite track on the EP.

“Linda Linda” ended the six song EP with a more ska-punk feel.  With trumpets supplied by Brad Magers and Keith Douglas of Mariachi El Bronx, the song was indeed a genre bender of a track.

This is not the first time the Gimmies have played a songs in different language as previously heard in their only live album to date Ruin Jonny’s Bar Mitzvah. Ok, it was just “Hava Nagila”, and yes, they were at a Bar Mitzvah.  Still, NOFX has covered the classic French tune “Champs Elysées” before, and they nailed it.  The point I am trying to make is that the Gimmes are more talented than many may think.

So why did they do a Japanese EP full of songs you probably have never heard of in your life?  Simple…because they can.

The band will be touring Japan shortly and I am sure that had something to do with which culture they decided to cover.  Just like the band’s last EP Go Down Under (they toured Australia upon releasing the EP), the band threw together a bunch of songs together just in time to tour.  I really would like to think that this was a little more involved than a couple of jam sessions as Spike really does a hell of a job singing the lyrics of each track in Japanese.  Funny thing about this concept is that the band plans on releasing future EPs in Spanish, German, and even French.  Is it wrong of me to be excited about this world tour of covering?

I can not say I knew any of these songs by heart nor have I the slightest clue what they were about, but I enjoyed what I heard.  The Gimmies could play Jesus Christ Superstar in its entirety for all I care and I am sure I would say the same thing.  I love these guys.

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes “Hero” by Fat Wreck Chords