As of 7:43 on the morning of October 15, 2015, I have officially been on this planet longer than Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain. In reaching the age my dad was when I was born, I have come to two revelations. One: the DIY Channel is a lot more entertaining than I ever could have imagined and two: going to punk rock shows is exhausting.
I was 13 when I discovered Fenix Tx. They had just released a music video starring Mark Hoppus for a song that was featured on this MTV movie Jailbait. I don’t remember much about the movie other than I may or may not have watched it on mute late at night thinking it was a different kind of movie, but the song “All My Fault” stuck with me. Maybe it was seeing a Latino dude on MTV playing music I liked for the first time or maybe it was the Blink 182 association, but I remember I wanted to know everything I possibly could about this band.
In a time before DVR and easy access to Google from your fingertips, I mistook the band for Millencolin and bought Pennybridge Pioneers and got sucked into the Swedish quartet skate pop punk styling. In hindsight, I have no idea how I mixed up the two as they sound nothing alike, but it was a happy mistake that became more pronounced when I saw the music video for “Threesome” by Fenix Tx years later and reminded me that I really wanted to learn more about this band. I went out and bought their second album Lechuza and giggled at the thought of white teenagers trying to figure out what the word meant. I loved it from start to finish and as I learned to drive in a time before iPods, it became a staple in my ’92 Blazer CD player.
Around this same time, Unwritten Law had just reached some pretty notable success with “Seein’ Red,” a song that seemed to be on the soundtrack to every movie about teenagers who like skateboarding or surfing or living in California. The harmonic on the chorus of that song is still some of my favorite sounds of all time. I delved into some of their other songs and became smitten with the intensity of their hard-nosed pop punk sound. The guitars were reminiscent of a harder sound bordering on nü metal tendencies with enough nuances that still resonated with a crowd that was more partial to NOFX than Limp Bizkit.
Naturally, the two bands would come together over a decade later to take us on a trip down memory lane to a time when Blink 182 weren’t dads. Fenix Tx and Unwritten Law put on a great show at the Limelight on March 21 that was just a reminder that just because we’re old now, doesn’t mean we can’t have fun dancing to the songs we loved when we were kids. The lineups may have been altered here and there and both bands looked more winded in between sets than they would have a decade ago, but the sentiment was still there. The front half of the Limelight was filled to the brim and coming from a couple of bands that used to go on tours opening up for huge acts, they both treated the crowd with the energy of a band that was playing to a small venue for the first time.
It was a great turnout for a throwback show that only reminded me how much I still enjoy both bands’ music. I finally understood why people my parents’ age still turn out for bands like Poison and whatever project Sebastian Bach is working on. It’s the music that defined their generation and for better or worst, you shouldn’t feel guilty enjoying something decades after it first made you tap your toes. Both Fenix Tx and Unwritten Law served as a beacon of where I saw myself when I was a teenager and just because now my legs get sore from dancing in the pit, doesn’t mean I can’t have a good time.