As we headed backstage to interview Zebrahead before the show, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The full force of the energetic, fun and up tempo band was sure to be seen at the gig, just an hour away, but how would their loud and laddish personalities be in reality? Entering the office we’d commandeered, Matty and Ali shook our hands, introduced themselves and took their seats, only momentarily pausing to observe a comical poster in the corner proclaiming “y’all motherfuckers need Jesus”. Matty sat back and put his feet up with some fruit pastilles (which we later found he loved) on his lap whilst Ali leaned forwards to hear the questions. They were immediately and clearly a double act. Do check the video of the interview to hear about their new album and get to see what they’re like in person.
From beginning to end there was no doubt that these were two characters who knew how to work together, right down to how they shared out answering the questions. Come show time though, the relaxed Zebrahead showed their trademark noise and fun. Opening act “Man On A Mission” had delivered a musical feast of crazy energy slightly spoilt by their trademark wolf masks stopping them from emoting. The more simple and poppy “Patent Pending” followed with a straight and fun pop rock set packed with on stage antics (as well as repeated off stage crowd surfing).
It seemed maybe Zebrahead were going to have trouble surpassing their own warm up acts. What they delivered however, was just right in the end. It was an honest rock show that, between on stage banter, encouragement for the audience to hug and even Matty bringing water to security for a front row audience member who had passed out, was alive with a feel good vibe. Avoiding early pre-Matty hits like Playmate Of The Year didn’t phase the audience either, who were there to see this Zebrahead, not the one more familiar to the MTV generation.
The torrent of recent hits kept coming and virtually every first note sparked a scream of audience adoration. From a technical stand point the sound was a little heavy in the mix leaving Matty’s voice hard to hear properly, which is a shame given the O2 Brooklyn Bowl stage having a great sound system, but with a band like this, at least the energy never stopped. This was not an audience in which there were two many of those annoying arms crossed headboppers. The stage presence was fun and lively, and when they finally finished, each band member went to the crowd front to meet, shake hands with, hug and be photo’d with their fans. Maybe an older Zebrahead fan may miss the older songs, maybe the sound was a little too messy to pick apart properly, but I can’t see how any fan of loud energetic nights out or this band, could have left without a smile on their face.