There's no "American Idiot" without Screeching Weasel. If the Ramones helped define the pop-punk template for urban malaise, Screeching Weasel reclaimed it for suburbia. The down-and-out, disillusioned and financially unstable couch-bound characters that dominate the Green Day soap opera were the misfit heroes of nearly every Screeching Weasel album.
That opening paragraph makes the bratty Screeching Weasel out to be something serious. Make no mistake, the band grappled with aging (the fear of impending fatness in "Pretty Girls Don't Talk to Me"), tolerance ("I Wanna Be A Homosexual") and themes of maturity throughout its career. Ben Weasel (real name: Ben Foster) colored his insecurities with conversational, self-deprecating details. "I'm sure you got a boyfriend and he's probably a lawyer or something" he sang on "I Wanna Be With You Tonight."
Of course, he also pleaded with girls to "Lose the Dink," bragged about his political indifference and had little use for metaphors, unless they were somehow related to television shows. "If you were a TV show," Weasel told one ex, "baby, you would have been cancelled."
Snarling its way out of the northwest suburbs of Chicago in the late '80s, Screeching Weasel created the roadmap for what would be the mid-'90s pop-punk explosion, when the songs of Green Day, Blink-182 and Offspring made the slacker a king. Screeching Weasel's anthems weren't of the woe-is-me-sort, however. There was anger, but this was motivation through sarcasm, and "old folks," Led Zeppelin, surfers and girls with boyfriends were the target of Weasel's venom.
Now on the reunion circuit, Screeching Weasel plays Club Nokia in Los Angeles on Sunday night, making a rare appearance outside of the Midwest. The night prior, Weasel-off-shoot the Riverdales (Screeching Weasel with less snarl and more pop) will appear at the Troubadour. The Weasel Weekend is a well-deserved and long overdue victory lap, and not simply because it keeps songs such as "Amy Saw Me Looking At Her Boobs" alive in the American rock 'n' roll canon.
Look, Pop & Hiss understands the Club Nokia gig is not a cheap ticket for a punk rock show. While the $21 list doesn't seem so steep, various Ticketmaster fees and AEG building fees ultimately result in a $41.40 ticket. That's a Hollywood Bowl-like investment you're looking at right there. But there are reasons Screeching Weasel may be worth the cash.