Violent Femmes Deliver Angst and Excitement to MTELUS

October 12th, 2023 was a time capsule to teenage angst for the band, Violent Femmes, at the 40th-anniversary tour of their self-titled debut album at MTELUS.

This Folk Punk Band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin found critical acclaim in 1983, when this first record, filled with youthful yearning and anger, was released. The tracks, written by Gordon Gano, the lead singer and guitarist, at the young age of 18, explore themes of sexual expression, anger, love, lust, and wanting your dad to lend you his car. 

The concert started with a Canadian folk act, Kevin Hearn, of the Barenaked Ladies. Hearn played joyful songs with an air of melodic pop but used gory metaphors that could be humorous, creating an enthralling honest vulnerability to his lyrics. 

Once Violent Femmes came on stage the crowd came alive. The whole night was filled with an energy of bliss and electric liveliness with cheering voices and dancing. The band played their debut record from start to end, thus, starting the night with their biggest hit, “Blister in the Sun.” This, however, didn’t make the night any less enjoyable as it filled the audience with excitement. All the songs sounded as they did on the recording, truly bringing the crowd back to their youths. 

Throughout the night the band used a myriad of instruments sometimes in peculiar ways, like playing the violin like a ukulele and using a barbecue as a drum. This was incredibly impressive and mesmerizing as the audience could see the pure passion expressed by the musician’s level of technical skill and talent that was needed to create this iconic first album. It appeared like each musician was communicating with each other through their instruments as well as personally to the audience. The band played some songs from their other albums, ending the night with their song “American Music” as an encore. The small venue, remarkable bass solos, and use of wind instruments made the night unforgettable and awe-inducing. 

Rightfully so a fan favourite, The Violent Femmes debut album is the perfect soundtrack to soothe the bittersweet ache of growing up. I dutifully recommend it to any student going through the stress of starting university in a new atmosphere with new people.