You know, I’ve said before that I really don’t mind the winter. And for the most part, I feel like I’m telling the truth. Like c’mon… fires, coffee and Bailey’s, some tasty scotch by said fire, sweats… there are SOOO many reasons to love some snow days. But when there’s shows rolling through town in the middle of an arctic vortex, it’s just the worst. To be clear, it’s not the show. It’s just the ice cold slap of blistering winter to freeze your eyelids together. I digress. A Mean Jeans show was on the roster, so let’s talk about that some more, mmkay?
Broken City in Calgary is a pretty tight venue for shows. The stage is a small riser with nothing overly special; just the room for band mates to jam out their songs. The Special from the bar was the ‘Mean Jean’ – a vodka highball dropped into a glass of Mountain Dew. I suspect it was a concoction put together partly in jest and creativity equally. Oh, was it good? Nope, not even a little bit. But I had to try it. And I’m sure it was rad for those who were into it. I guess as far as drinks go, it was a drink.
First up, party punk locals Julius Sumner Miller took the single step stage with their set full of kick-you-in-the-face tunes full of licks and classic rippers like “St Teresa,” “Katie Holmes,” and my personal favorite “Japanese Sword Fight.” Front-man Darren Ollinger’s infectious room presence is like no other. Get a little too close and you just may end up on the receiving end of a mic in your face. Audience participation is a must with these guys. If you’re in the room while they are playing, you are a part of the show.
The Hockey Fight followed with stage theatrics and costumes to back their brand of pop punk centered around the beloved Canadian sport. The Hockey Fight are a ton of fun to watch live. They come equipped with Jersey’s stained in fake blood, black eyes, a referee on stage to keep them on on-side (I tried to think of a better dad joke but nay).
The Mandates is a fantastic act to watch live just as they are to listen to over the speakers on… CD? Probably streaming, but ya know. Admittedly I thought it was sort of an odd choice for this show given that The Mandates are more of a rock/power pop outfit (I’m sure I’ll get some heat for saying that). But they were the perfect blend, and it was a rad time. Their energy is contagious, and as a live act they are just so damn tight. They really just wanna rock and wanna roll. Ending their set with a cover of “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” had everyone dancing and singing to a deafening pulse.
Closing out the night, Mean Jeans delivered as promised. Fists in the air, airborne beer, drenched with sweat the crowd pressed in to join in on all the nocturnal party feels. I have never seen Mean Jeans live, which I believe was the consensus of most people at Broken City that night. For whatever reason I thought I wouldn’t hear my fave “Nite Vision.” But man, they played it and it was the best thing ever. Their set was a good mix, Jingles and all. These guys play with an energy that keeps you good and vibing long after the show is over.
See photos from the eve below!
Mean Jeans’ last record, Jingles, was released in 2018 on Fat Wreck Chords.