When you’ve got a band with the pedigree of The Queers coming in to town to perform, you can always expect two things: a heavy turnout and a killer performance. Neither Gas Lamp nor the boys from New Hampshire disappointed in those regards, as The Queers unleashed a blistering, break-neck set in front of what was easily the largest crowd that I’ve ever seen in the venue. Pop punk is in a state of flux, but Saturday night proved that there’s a healthy appetite for the stuff when it’s performed and presented well.
Kicking off the night, though, was a couple of acts from right around here, starting with North of Grand. Some of the city’s hardest workers, North of Grand is coming off a successful 2012 that saw the release of an album hailed in these very pages as the best pop rock album released in the state last year, “A Farewell to Rockets.” And while NoG is not a punk outfit, it can play hard and loud with the best of them. As such, the band managed to make its set disparate without ruining the flow. It was a great table-setter.
But can we talk for just a moment about Lipstick Homicide? The Coralville-based, pop/punk trio is a throwback to the classic New England sound that’s typified by The Ramones and kept alive by Saturday’s headliner. Extremely small in stature — the entire band weighs about 70 pounds — Lipstick Homicide is huge in sound, and its set was frenetic, loud and absolutely pitch-perfect punk. Clearly people showed up at Gas Lamp to see The Queers do its thing and with good reason, but North of Grand and Lipstick Homicide gave excellent arguments as to why you should always show up in time for the opening acts. CV