"We're going to do our best not to suck," pledged Royal Headache vocalist Shogun. Despite a 20-hour flight and a visa snafu that almost scotched the gig – and actually did so to the band's initial Chaos in Tejas gig the night before – the high-energy Sydney, Australia, quartet didn't just show up. At first note, the large crowd became a sea of pogo-ing heads and crowd-surfing limbs as the band reduced mountains of frustration into puddles of sweat. Royal Headache transcends ear-splitting Detroit proto-punk with lovelorn pop melodicism that John Peel would've swooned for. Stalking the stage like an angry animal while hitting every note in "Down the Lane," Shogun's punk tutorial was definitive. By contrast, Ohio's Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments seethed with beer-steeped post-punk cynicism. Vocalist Ron House screamed himself purple as the quartet plowed through cult favorites "Down to High Street" and "You Can't Kill Stupid" from its unlikely 1995 major label release, Bait and Switch. Ballyhooed New Zealand-bred headliners the Clean began in a lilting psychedelic surf-punk haze, and while guitarist David Kilgour endured relentless tuning issues that disrupted the pace, his distinctive tone held sway. The trio focused on early Clean classics, including an elongated version of the instrumental "Fish" and the slow-building "Point That Thing Somewhere Else." After a rousing "Anything Can Happen," the Clean lit into "Tally Ho!" and the packed house moved from reverent nods into full pop frenzy. That alone would've sufficed, but the encore punch of "Odditty" and "Billy Two" sealed the win.
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