Considering Beach Slang’s most recent album is titled A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings, it was initially jarring to see 41-year old lead singer James Alex take the stage at The Sinclair. Dressed in a velvet jacket with a heart patch stitched on and a pale blue ruffled shirt, Alex looked more like a wedding singer from the 80s than frontman of a punk rock band. The crowd, however, did not seem surprised. A range of people from fellow college students to middle-aged couples shouted along to their first song, many yelling “I saw you in New York” or “I met you guys at Riot Fest.” For a band unable to pack The Sinclair, the modest group of fans seemed to be an especially dedicated one.
After declaring “We are Beach Slang from Philadelphia and we are here to punch you in the heart,” the band launched into their best known song, “Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas.” The whole crowd was jumping and shouting along. Once the song ended, people started yelling song requests, to which Alex said “Okay, the setlist is just a guideline anyway” and abandoned it in favor of the crowd’s suggestions, playing covers of The Replacements and The Pixies, bringing out a fan and their stage manager to sing with them, and chugging pink cocktails without using hands—and twice spitting them at each other.
By the end of the show, Alex’s curls were matted to his face with sweat from doing backbends that would put a gymnast to shame and windmilling his guitar. They performed “Dirty Cigarettes,” off their 2014 EP Cheap Thrills on a Dead End Street, which proved to be a fan favorite, getting everyone moving and singing along. The opening lyrics are perhaps the best way to encapsulate Beach Slang’s carefree, drunken set: “I write a lot, it’s mostly lies / I fall in love to pass the time / I never fit, I never tried.”