While bands come and go and eventually fade into obscurity, truly great songs always stand the test of time.
Nonetheless, there always has been – and seemingly always will be – a stigma attached to the label of ‘one-hit wonder’.
Wheatus are refreshing insofar as they cherish their 2000 monster hit Teenage Dirtbag. Yes, it really has been 15 years since ‘that song’ came out – but we’ll get back to that later.
After gracing The Boileroom stage in Guildford less than a year ago, Wheatus returned on Friday (October 9) as part of their celebratory 15th anniversary tour.
And it was every bit the raucous celebration you would imagine; what Wheatus manage so successfully is to put on an old-fashioned request show – with a strong backbone.
That backbone tonight is the band’s eponymous debut album, which they have been interspersing throughout their set in its entirety – give or take a song here and there – during their 20-date UK tour, which wrapped up in Brighton on Monday (October 12).
Tonight, we get the lot, from opener Truffles through closer Wannabe Gangstar. For anyone who remembers this album from their teenage years – and there are no shortage of them in the crowd – this is a real treat.
In fact, it’s probably fair to say that for many of packed into a sold-out Boileroom, Wheatus might well have been, and might well still be, something of a guilty pleasure.
Wheatus revel in their lack of cool; it almost defines them. They stick up for the outcasts and the downtrodden. Their songs are eminently relatable, evoking teenage angst as if it were currency.
The night is made all the more joyous, if slightly peculiar, by seeing a room largely full of 20-somethings belting out every word to songs like Punk Ass Bitch and Love Is A Mutt From Hell.
Lyrics like ‘Hey Mr Brown, don’t have a cow!’ hark back to the mid-90s when Wheatus were formed and these songs were hewn – you can almost imagine singer and songwriter Brendan B Brown channelling his inner Bart Simpson.
With his distinctive guitar style, which sees him caress and pluck at his strings rather than hammer at them with a plectrum, Brown comes across as the reluctant rock star, albeit one who within 15 seconds of taking to the stage is clambering onto the barrier and thrusting himself into the crowd.
Like the crowd last night though, I can hear you thinking – ‘yeah, but what about THAT SONG?’. Trust me, we’ll get to that.
To be fair to the crowd, it was at least a good two-thirds into the band’s set before the first concerted call for Teenage Dirtbag.
“You’ll get your Dirtbag,” quips Brown with a knowing smile, taking requests which sees the band air other fan favourites like Lemonade and The London Sun. A rare cut from their back catalogue even gets a debut airing in the UK.
“This is my favourite Wheatus song,” says Brown ahead of a poignant rendition of Valentine, which serves only to amplify the excitement for ‘that song’.
Cue those distinctive opening chords of Teenage Dirtbag, and with a singalong worthy of a venue a thousand times the size of The Boileroom (and the now obligatory selfie with the crowd), that’s that.
It’s a fitting end to the band’s 15th anniversary celebration here in Guildford. Actually, no, it’s the ONLY possible end.
Pictures by Sophie Garrett.
Originally published on Get Surrey, 13/10/15