If the Dead Kennedys and The Dell Vikings got together and had a lovechild, it would sound an awful lot like The Frights, the sometimes weepy, sometimes snarky surfpunk/doo-wop band from San Diego. They’ll be playing this Friday, November 10 at Walter’s Downtown with Hockey Dad and Vundabar.
In February 2016, The Frights released their debut LP, You Are Going to Hate This. But No. No, gentlemen, I didn’t.
However, that peculiar breed of conservative that pines after the days when “men acted like men” and then complains that liberals have undermined traditional masculinity and have thus produced a generation of males who are too sensitive, too maudlin — a bunch of sissies who can’t take an old fashioned bigoted joke or won’t take an interest in killing furry animals like boys used to. Yea, that kind of person will hate these ten tracks.
You Are Going to Hate This is sappy and self-deprecating in all the rights ways. Singer Mikey Carnevale wears his bleeding heart on a snot-crusted sleeve as he moans from the growing pains that come with the transition from adolescence to adulthood. For example, in the chorus of the single “Kids,” Carnevale snarls, “We left our home . . . and now I miss my mommy” (ditto), as if he were clawing his throat to punish himself for feeling so sad.
When Carnevale isn’t flagellating himself, he’s pitying himself, in the brilliant way that confessional poets do — with wit, charm, beauty, and the kind of raw, butt-naked honesty that makes you say, “Yeah, me too. I just don’t want anyone to know.” Listening to the acoustic finale “Of Age,” I definitely had one of those “me too” moments when Carnevale rhymes, “There are times I miss the friends I had. There are times I’m glad they’re gone. But I can’t explain the feeling as I watch you all move on.” That is: move on with adult life and adult responsibilities like having a 9-5 job that pays well and requires you to honor a stuffy dress code, opening a 401k, and saving for a mortgage instead of wasting these precious years being an “artist.”
But Carnevale, despite his commitment to chasing his dream to a dead-end, appeals to the 70-something-year-old retirees who, when they were youngsters, put their childish swing-dancing, jitter-bugging days behind them to get rich from the post-war boom. (I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same.) The Frights frequently calm down and dim the lights with sweet, swaying ballads that would’ve made for a good slow dance at any high school homecoming in the ‘50s. For example, “Make Out Point,” which appears on the Fur Shur EP, proves that they can doo-wop with the best of ‘em, without dulling their edge as a punk band:
So grab some old guy’s letterman jacket, rescue your grandmother’s poodle skirt from the attic, and brace yourselves for a sock-hopping good time at Walter’s Downtown. It’s, quite appropriately, an all-ages show. Doors open at 7pm; tickets are $13 online and $16 at the door.
Have fun, kids. Make good choices.