There was no fooling around on April 1st when Live Nation brought the House of Blues one of the best shows around: MXPX, Zebrahead, Bad Cop / Bad Cop, and Mercy Music! The sold out show had fans ready to see some of their favorite bands play.
Starting first was Mercy Music. This trio performed my personal favorite, “Overjoyed,” and I was overjoyed to hear it (giggle-snort). With front-man Brendan Scholz wearing black leather and displaying face tattoos, you’d expect to hear something a bit heavier from Mercy Music.
Calling themselves “sad bastards of power pop,” they have a delightful punk sound that is pleasing to the masses and very well written. I was able to speak with Scholz after their set and not only does he have an impeccable memory, but he is also an incredibly nice guy.
During the Mercy Music set, fans were still pouring in and the line for the MXPX merch grew to fill the HOB lobby. This didn’t stop Bad Cop Bad Cop fans from storming the stage in the ever-growing event room. I began to wonder how they could fit more people in when it was only the second of four bands playing so far.
Up next was Bad Cop / Bad Cop and in true fashion, bassist Linh Le jumped as high as possible with her instrument and looked like she was about sprout wings and fly over her bandmates. The fan favorite song “Womanarchist” made the crowd go crazy and spin in circles of moshing hair, sweat, smiles, and children.
There were many families at this show and everyone wanted to get in on showing their small kids “how mommy and daddy rock out.” Even a punker with a giant green mohawk was helping kids go through the mosh pit to make sure kids of all ages had a great time.
Finally, the lights dimmed as we listened to “Sound of da Police” by KRS-One. Zebrahead jumped on stage and right in to “Rescue Me.”
Playing their first Orange County show since their last HOB gig three years ago, they returned with the addition of new front-man Adrian Estrella. The crowd went gaga over seeing the new lineup, especially when they played songs off their newest EP, “iii,” including “Lay Me to Rest.” It was amazing seeing the guys play again and their energy was oozing from their pores! You could see by the way the band members were bouncing all over the stage that they were just as happy to be there as we were to have them.
During their set, their merch guy crowd surfed on a giant inflatable watermelon slice. Friend and music producer Paul Miner was dressed in a skeleton onesie and sang some backup vocals while standing at a makeshift on-stage bar. Guitarist Dan Palmer was wheeled around on an equipment cart while playing a ripping solo.
Co-front-man Ali Tabatabaee had everyone crouch down then jump up and rock out, and they tossed about two dozen beach balls into the crowd and watched them bounce around the room.
Towards the end of their set, Estrella saw a dad with a kid around 11 years old in the audience and motioned for them to come up front. The kid got on stage and co-sang “All My Friends Are Nobodies” in PERFECT sync with Estrella. We spoke with Estrella afterward and he said he saw the kid singing all the words to their entire set and just had to give him props.
After Zebrahead there was a lull in the crowd. You knew people were hot and wanted to get drinks or use the restroom, but no one was willing to move and give up their precious real estate of where they were standing. The sold-out show had everyone reeling for the headliner; you could see MXPX shirts, hats, and tattoos on fans all over the venue.
Finally, MXPX came on and just like that, the crowd came unglued with “Friday Tonight.” Front-man Mike Herrera said between songs that this show was their first live show in three years and how much they missed performing. The crowd cheered in agreement and the band went into the next song.
The band played a great assortment from their beloved albums, but nothing got the crowd in more of a frenzy than their hits “Chick Magnet,” then “Responsibility” immediately followed by “Punk Rawk Show” for their final songs. These are so well-known that even the occasional MXPX listener can sing along to those songs. Of course, these weren’t just any fans; these were MXPX fans and you could tell they needed a fix of their favorite Washington band.
Sweaty and tired, but wearing smiles and talking about what a great time they had, the fans left the venue and ventured to their cars. The night was full of amazing music that is hard to squish into one night, but House of Blues in Anaheim made it work seamlessly.