Samiam at Alex's Bar Last Night

Dec. 29, 2010
Alex's Bar

Last night's show was a mindfuck of the best variety. Berkeley band Samiam have been playing a unique brand of pop punk since the late '80s, and they have experienced their share of intraband strife since early in the millennium. They seem to have patched up their differences, however. They are  touring once again, ans they sound as good as ever. 


Samiam not only influenced a wealth of punk bands that found fame in the '90s, but also spawned the second wave of emo bands (the good wave) with their impassioned vocals and warm-chord guitars. 
The  mindfuck happened because this quartet is so old. Singer Jason Beebout can't be younger than 40, yet he sings with a uniquely emotional tone that instantly evokes high-school angst. Despite his bald pate and ample paunch, none of this seemed odd. Tthere is no one in punk rock that sounds like Beebout; his voice emits a scratchy growl that doesn't interfere with the intense, imploring aspect of his melodies. 
The evening's highlights included set opener “Sunshine” off 2000's Astray, as well as encore jam “Capsized” off 1994's Clumsy. It was during the latter that Beebout lent the mic to a young lady in front of the stage for some vocal assistance. 
During the song “Dull,” also off Astray, when Beebout sang the lyric, “I know why he put that bullet in his skull/'Cause life can be so dull,”  the emotion of the performance was most effectively conveyed. It was a melodramatic cliché, but he sung with a conviction that sums up the collective feeling of a generation passed.

Samiam were preceded by Escondido band Tiltwheel, another emo-inspired group with an aging singer rocking a gray beard. He also vocally wasted the fucktards who have picked up the emo torch in the past decade, including Pete Wentz and Jared Leto. If only they knew they were complete tools.
The audience: Skinny jeans, dark-rimmed glasses, Bouncing Souls hoodies.
Overheard: Lead singer of Tiltwheel advising the audience, “Don't put on shows. Don't start a band. It's fucking dumb. Go get a real job. There's a car wash up the street.” 
Personal Bias: I'm a sucker for '90s-era emo music. People can talk all they want about Weezer's contributions to the genre, I just don't get that.
Random notebook dump: Bella Novela singer Jackie Ojeda works at Alex's as a bartender. Go buy a drink from her and give her a tip.
Set list: Samiam play without the assistance of a set list. Apparently, they've maintained their memories even in old age.

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