Peter and the Test Tube Babies
Better than…any other backyard punk shows that night.
Peter and the Test Tube Babies's show on Saturday doubled as a punk rock sauna. This was the band from Peacehaven, Sussex's first concert in the U.S. since 2002; eager punks were damned if they were going to miss out.
Like The Exploited or Cock Sparrer, Peter and the Test Tube Babies were a gateway UK punk band, except a little more humorous. Their classic ballads appear on seminal punk rock compilations like Punk and Disorderly and Oi! The Album.
Peter Bywaters, a man of few words, announced that they'd be playing their classics. Along with guitarist Del Strangefish, he is the only original member of the band left. Beforehand, the party had started in the parking lot behind the venue, with thirsty fans drinking and smoking up a storm. Cops drove by slowly and turned a blind eye, probably because there were no fights.
Opening local band The Generators riled up an impressive small legion of their own fans. Their mosh pit was passionate, but manageable.
As Peter and the Test Tube Babies started setting up, the crowd started to chant “culeeero,” a vulgar Spanish chant that goes well with British Oi! music. Though the members of the band may have seemed old by punk standards, as soon as they broke into the first chord for “Moped Lads,” it was obvious they were in it to win it.
The group's music is still adored 34 years after its conception; try as they might, the Airliner security were no match for the strength of the fans singing along. However, that didn't stop the show promoter — onstage with the band — from punching some unfortunate kid in the temple, and using a 500-watt speaker to repeatedly smack a couple of unlucky girls off the stage, “Respect my club!” he roared several times over on the mic. During all this, the mosh pit nearly gathered enough strength to nearly tear through the walls.
There were a handful of fist fights; not surprising for a show from a band that attracts testosterone-fueled skinheads in excellent physical condition. Nonetheless, the show kept going as the stressed bouncers did their job. At about 1:30 a.m., after the band performed a super-charged rendition of their popular hit “Banned from the Pubs,” the poor bouncers were about to collapse.
After another fight and an encore, the show was over. Despite the usual punk rock violence, everyone went home happy.
Overheard in the crowd: “Damn, this shit's punk as fuck.”
Personal bias: I was one of those kids who purchased the Punk and Disorderly compilation.
Set list below.