After fifteen years out of the game, Nashville’s indie-punk sensations Be Your Own Pet are back and boy, are they back. The band stopped by Nottingham’s Bodega to gift their fans with an album that I’m sure many of us thought was never going to come. After all, it’s rare to see a band bounce back after such a long hiatus. But were these long-awaited offerings able to enchant audiences in the same way that their signature ferociously quirky style had done in the late noughties? The city’s punk fans were eager to find out.
I must admit, I was only five years old when Be Your Own Pet called it quits back in 2008. I discovered the band a few years ago, when their cult hit Becky popped up somewhere on a Spotify playlist radio, and immediately I fell in love with their back catalogue. Therefore, I didn’t necessarily expect the crowd to match me in age. Stepping into the room though, you could see a tale of two halves; younger fans, like myself, that perhaps discovered the band during the hiatus, and nostalgic punk fans, curious about the bands return. Either way, the new record had a lot to live up to, with the difficult task of combining everything we loved from way back when with a new, modern lease of life.
But before finding out whether or not the band would live up to our hopes, we were treated to indie-grunge two-piece Fraulein, who provided us with beautifully emotive song writing and irregular, captivating rhythms. The duo managed to create an atmosphere that above else feels real and raw in a way that is simultaneously simple while also boasting technical difficulty, as demonstrated by a wonderful drum solo from Karsten van der Tol. Joni Samuel’s vocals offer a fierce fragility that I found utterly captivating. They will definitely be ones to watch out for in the future for me.
And then the headliners of the Teenage Heaven World Tour ’23 themselves graced the stage. Opening with a fresh new track from Mommy, Rubberist, the band immediately demonstrated that they meant business. That chugging riff at the start of the track, pumped up the crowd, as frontwoman Jemima Pearl made their mission statement very clear within the chorus: "I wanna shine for you."
Not only did the band shine, they dazzled in a brand new light. Their maturity boasted incredibly tight cohesion as a band, funky rhythms and commanding energy, without every losing the ferocity, edge or energy of the band’s youth. The stench of adolescence that made their earlier work all the more special could still be felt in their more tongue-in-cheek tracks like Bummer Time! – a fan favourite track about how the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot sucked (which it did, although the 2023 one according to them is actually quite good.) It was so nice to see the band’s duality in that way, and I think it’s why their returning album, Mommy, is as good as it is. It manages to honour where the band came from without living in 2008.
Other highlights included Worship the Whip, Hand Grenade and, of course, Becky. I was also incredibly impressed with the way that the band managed to keep up with incredible shredding intensity of tracks like Heart Throb, with both Pearl and guitarist Jonas Stein jumping into the pit, to the crowd’s great delight. They know exactly how to bring us into their world, and while at the end of a lot of gigs, I’m tired and ready to have a seat, I was still raring to go after this one, heavily energised by a wonderful dose of Be Your Own Pet.
Needless to say, I’m very glad that we’ve got them back.
Be Your Own Pet performed at The Bodega on 30 August 2023
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