Outl4w: It’s Only Rock’n;roll: DVD

Feb 26, 2007

Don’t look now, but I think that maybe the little squirts from Old Skull are, like Britney Spears, all grown up now with little ones of their own; little ones, in this case, that have their own squirty little punk band called “Outl4w.” For those of you too short-in-the-tooth to know or those of you too old and brain-wiped to remember, Old Skull was a band of pre-pubic haired runts with little league mohawks that showed up in the late ‘80s and caught the attention of the Entertainment Tonights of the world with boogery little sonic rants about Hot Dog Hells and Ronald Reagan. Snarl and shriek as they might, they ended up just too darling to be anything more than a novelty act along the lines of a Little Rascals-type punk rock band. (Though if they’re at all like the archetypal “child stars” that we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing crash and burn in early adulthood, they might just make real honest-to-goodness punk rock fuck-ups now.) Be that as it may, I still strongly recommend all serious punk connoisseurs rush out and track down a copy of Old Skull’s Get Outta School CD; it is a blood-curdling blend of sugar-charged punk and daycare center melt-downs and you would be hard-pressed to find a collection of recorded music more straight-up annoying. And these are the things of which treasures are made. But I digress somewhat. The way I figure it, if the Old Skull youngsters were maybe ten at the time of their brief ascent into the public eye back in the late ‘80s, they are certainly old enough now to have sired their own little litter of mohawked tikes and it’s possible that those little tikes started a band called “Outl4w.” Just like their pappies did when they were youths. The only thing that makes me somewhat question this sterling theory of mine, is that I think I remember the Old Skull kids being from Wisconsin, whereas the Outl4w kids seem to be British. Whatever, people have been known to move about the planet, even if they’re washed-up ex-childhood punk rock stars like Old Skull and god knows it’s the bottom feeders that seem to be the ones that breed the most. But this is supposed to be a review of the new Outl4w DVD and not a half-witted tract on eugenics. (Though it definitely seems to have a strong “age-ism” view.) So here, as over-simplified as possible, is my beef with Outl4w: their tunes are much more “tuneful” than a band like Old Skull and they are nowhere near as exasperatingly annoying. I know that probably sounds like a good thing and in some ways it is. But that all makes it harder to embrace them as cultural detritus; it makes it seem sort of like they’re supposed to be taken seriously. And to be honest, I have a hard time doing that. It’s a hang-up I’ve had for as long as I can remember: I don’t like seeing kids pretending to be adults. I didn’t like it when I was a kid and I don’t like it now that I’m an adult suffering from Peter Pan Syndrome. Kids should just stick to being kids and doing kid kinds of things. Kids pretending to be adults and pretending to have adult interests are just creepy. Look at JonBenét. Even if I didn’t know anything about her gruesome demise, I would still find the pictures of her all dolled up like Tammy Faye Baker disturbing. And it’s not just another one of my bouts with synesthesia kicking in when I say that those beauty pageant photos of her have an unholy stench wafting off of them. It’s the palpable stench of a crippled up and desperate adult—aka: Stage Mom or Stage Dad—forcing and directing things behind the scenes. And I strongly suspect that there is an over-enthusiastic Stage Dad behind Outl4w. But not only that; just what do these pee-wees have to be angry about? Chintzy allowance? Bicycle chains that keep falling off? Mom bought the wrong flavor of Pop-Tarts? Lingering bed-wetting problems? Kids have things to be pissed off about, but to really tap into the white hot flame that fuels true punk rock anger you really need to have been fully immersed over and over in the dysentery-filled dunk tank of so-called adult life. That’s when you really feel the lampreys of frustration sucking the lifeblood out of you, day in a day out, and that’s when a good, frothing rage begins to build. And things like good, angry punk rock start to happen. But, to be fair, I have to admit that these kids haven’t totally been spending their childhood eating Play-Doh and pushing peas up their noses. They seem to have acquired some familiarity with their punk rock forebears and their versions of songs by Sham 69, 999, and the Briefs are spirited and seemingly heartfelt. And I can respect that. These whippersnappers are probably going to be a kick-ass band someday. So as kiddie bands go, this isn’t bad. Not at all. But I’m “old school” enough that I want to see them get their little hearts broken a few times and get fucked over by the system again and again before I stop stealing their lunch money and shoving their little heads into their own locker doors. Plus, if I’m going to air out all my complaints, I don’t like the “4” in the spelling of their band name. It reminds me of another loathsome runt named “Prince.” –Aphid Peewit (Inl4w Wreckords, PO Box 30, Lytham St. Annes, FY8 1RL, UK)