On the weekend of Ray Carlisle’s birthday, Teenage Bottlerocket played three shows. Starting with a basement show in the band’s hometown at Laramie Center on Friday, they played Marquis Theater in Denver on Saturday. The weekend ended at Hodi’s Half Note minutes from The Blasting Room, where the band’s latest album, Stay Rad, was recorded. From Wyoming to Colorado, it was a great celebration supported by Pegboy at all three shows, four shows if you include Colorado Springs on Thursday night. It was a weekend full of meaning.
It’s okay to think Ray “Rocket” Carlisle has figured out the meaning of life. You can argue that it’s happiness. Teenage Bottlerocket inadvertently make their shows a celebration of joy. It’s impossible not to smile while they play. It’s also impossible not to participate. The show leaves your endorphin pumping.
They started out with a sound check consisting of a few chords by Metallica. If you don’t get the joke, you’re about to be included, and you’ll understand by the end of the set. It was an all-ages show with Ray’s son Milo and a dozen of next-generation punks running around.
They hit the crowd fast with “Freakout,” then on to “Skate Or Die.” Third on the set list was “Don’t Want To Go.” It was a “Blitzkrieg Bop” of fury. They actually covered the Ramones. It’s a tight homage; it’s a sing-a-long. There were a few sing-a-alongs including “Wild Hair (Across My Ass);” there were some dance numbers like “Bottlerocket,” and a love song, “I Never Knew.” It was high energy, and they put a great performance together every night.
Ray Carlisle’s get-up-off-the-stage jumps channeled 90s “Youth Kicks” and stoked the crowd. Miguel “Miggy” Chen’s zen yoga approach and bass balancing keep the band grounded on the low end. Kody Templeman shreds and belts out velvet punk tones fit for angels. Darren Chewka keeps the backbeat. The party raged on stage all weekend long from Laramie to Fort Collins looping through Denver. The weekend unofficially began Thursday when they played Colorado Springs, so it was really a zig zag thought the region. Nonetheless, every night was high-energy despite the band claiming each night before was a big party.
The whole thing came to a close with a beautiful birthday bow, balloons thrown out to the crowd, and a gift to Ray’s lost brother Brandon, who passed in 2015. Brandon Carlisle was Ray’s twin brother and Teenage Bottlerocket’s first drummer. He is buried in his Pegboy jacket, a detail Ray shared with the crowd on Saturday in Denver. On the Carlisle’s birthday, Ray began the encore dedicated to his twin brother. Brandon Carlisle may be gone, but he’s not forgotten. Ray took the stage solo, and told the story he’s lived now for four years. What it’s like not to be a twin—powerful. Every emotion came crashing through. The reason to bring Pegboy to Wyoming and Colorado, the reason to play a basement show, the reason to celebrate. A Teenage Bottlerocket set has a lot of musical movements, so much fun, so much meaning, and so much composure.
They’re full on punk rock stars who own the stage and rock the crowd. If they missed a note, you’ll never know, because you’re too busy dancing, smiling, and being included in the jokes. Contrary to the first track on Stay Rad, people get the joke.