SXSW Review: Teenage Halloween, Surfbort, March 17, Cheer Up Charlie’s


Teenage Halloween is an evocative band name, one that brings to mind images of kids chucking eggs and toilet paper at houses, getting drunk and/or partaking in other illicit substances, or if you want to take a more wholesome perspective, going out for your last chance to trick or treat before you get too old or maybe staying in for an all night horror movie marathon.

For me personally, it evokes the memory of a kid in my neighbourhood named Larry, who came to my door trick or treating when I was in Grade 10 or so. Larry was the same age as me and probably about 6 feet tall, wearing just his street clothes and some shitty werewolf mask that he probably got at the drugstore. I was like, WTF Larry, but I gave him some candy anyways. What does this have to do with the band Teenage Halloween? Oh, nothing, really. Sorry, I got a little distracted there.

With a name like Teenage Halloween, I didn’t know exactly what to expect when I headed out to see them on the first day of Brooklyn Vegan’s day parties at Cheer Up Charlie’s, though I had a pretty good idea. I knew they were a punk band and I figured Brooklyn Vegan has a pretty good track record of booking bands for their day shows, so odds were good they’d be worth watching. I was correct.

What Teenage Halloween offered up was a fun set of gruff sounding pop punk with impressive guitar parts and clever lyrics dealing with themes of queerness and mental health. There was also a sax player, though I couldn’t really hear them in the mix. Still, kudos on having a saxophone – must be the band’s New Jersey roots coming through. I enjoyed their set so much I bought a cassette from their merch guy, which is pretty rare at SXSW – rare for me to want to buy a band’s merch on the spot, yes, but also even more rare to see a band even set up a merch table.

Following them later that afternoon on the same stage was Surfbort, whose singer Dani Miller is a delightful and engaging frontwoman, full of punk rock energy. Starting out their Thursday afternoon set with “Silly D”, a song featuring the refrain of “We should be wasted by now” (later morphing into “wasted on love”), the band came on strong and had the attention of the crowd throughout their brief set. Normally I’d question whether someone really should be “wasted by now” before 2:00pm on a weekday but hey, this is SouthBy, and St. Patrick’s Day to boot, so yeah, not really unheard of to be wasted by then. For the record, I was stone cold sober at this point, but I still raise my glass to Surfbort and Teenage Halloween. Cheers!

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest