Lit at The Button Factory, Dublin, 16th May 2014
Let us take you back, if we may, to the late 1990s. It was a time when mobile telephony, thanks in no small part to the Nokia 3210, was truly entering the mainstream; no longer the preserve of yuppies and middle aged men in convertibles. It was a time when people used Encarta, or even the hard bound Britannica, as their encyclopaedia. It was a time when Keith O’Neill’s lax marking from a corner against Macedonia kept Ireland out of the European Championships.
It was also a time for skater rock (before it became ‘sk8r rock’). While the real ‘indie’ kids listened to the likes of Neutral Milk Hotel (the very same thing happened in Dublin on Friday), the disaffected, the hormonal, the kids who hung around the Central Bank in Dublin, they listened to skater rock. They were the ‘teenage dirtbags’ before Wheatus popularised the phrase.
A decade and a half later – yes, that makes us feel old too – and skater rock returns to Dublin with Lit and a 15th anniversary performance of their classic ‘A Place in The Sun’ album. A. Jay Popoff and Co enter early, about 8.45, and immediately crack into Four, the album’s opener.
The crowd, mostly men old enough to know better but trying to remember a time they weren’t, has not hit its peak yet and many ‘slacker shorts’ and oversized t-shirts are only entering when hit My Own Worst Enemy is unleashed. The song, one which Sum 41’s In Too Deep tried hard to be, has Popoff rolling back the years and bounding around the stage, as enthusiastic as ever.
Popoff doesn’t look like he has grown out of the late ‘90s/early ‘00s either, still sporting earrings and an extreme rocker haircut, with an armful of tattoos on show beneath his short t-shirt sleeves. He swigs from a bottle of wine (and later one of Jaegermeister), and constantly puts in the effort to entertain the half-capacity crowd.
‘A Place in The Sun’ resonated with people present back in 1999, and it’s not hard to see why. Songs like Miserable, with its chorus “You make me come/you make me complete/you make me completely miserable” is still catchy and relatable. Their tales of self-frustration and rebuke are entertaining and well executed, and could easily be entertaining a new generation of slackers if they weren’t listening to… whatever it is they listen to these days.
The musical quality of the show falls, however, after Lit finish off with ‘A Place in The Sun’ and venture into performing newer material. The more recent output seems merely derivative of their older material, a common problem with bands that capture a particular life moment in an album.
There’s still some enjoyment in the show, particularly when Popoff gestures to the album cover backdrop portraying a lady in a bathing suit on a lilo. “I wonder if she’s still hot,” he asks. “She was like 70 when we released the album. She’s probably gone now.”
Lit are an entertaining band, something they live up to on Friday night. For a spot of happy reminiscence, their show is a worthwhile one. If, however, you don’t pine for the days you need your touchtone phone to find out cinema time, you probably didn’t miss too much.