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:
“Who Put the Bomp”
“Sloop John B”
“Crazy For You”
“I Believe I Can Fly”
“Isn’t She Lovely”
“Over the Rainbow”
Spike playing the Uke
“All My Lovin'”
“I Will Survive”
“End of the Road”
Click on a photo below to open the slideshow: