Live: Wheatus / MC Frontalot

Epic Studios, Norwich November 6, 2023

by Daisy-Jude Pizey

The set darkens as anticipating voices quiet down to a murmur. A bald man with a tucked-in shirt, a bright orange tie and beige trousers takes the stage.

Is it a crew member? No, it’s MC Frontalot, the godfather of nerdcore, here to lecture all on grammatical errors and show us a good time. Claiming he’s the “fun boss”, Damian Alexander Hess never misses a beat and includes technical jargon in his nerd-centred songs.

MC Frontalot, the fun boss (Picture: Jan Kelly)
MC Frontalot, the fun boss (Picture: Jan Kelly)

The song that catches the most attention is Power User, for which Hess invites Wheatus backing vocalist Joey Slater on stage, calling her “Lorem Ipsum” – the placeholder text used in graphic design.

An enthusiastic Matthew Milligan and KC Marotta (the bassist and drummer for Wheatus) join Hess and Lorem Ipsum for the final song, Tongue-Clucking Grammarian, adding more life to the rapper’s performance and a flair of chaos to the stage, with running around and headbanging galore.

It's chaos with MC Frontalot (Picture: Jan Kelly)
It’s chaos with MC Frontalot (Picture: Jan Kelly)

There’s only time for a quick cigarette and a pint before Wheatus hit the stage, with frontman Brendan B Brown asking for requests from the crowd.

Rolling off the many requests, they begin with The Deck from their 2003 album, Hand Over Your Loved Ones. With so many catchy tunes as memorable as your first MySpace profile, it’s hard to not feel transported back in time.

Wheatus take us back in time (Picture: Jan Kelly)
Wheatus take us back in time (Picture: Jan Kelly)

Brown continues using the crowd to guide his setlist, ignoring any Teenage Dirtbag requests till the end. The only one that doesn’t quite work is That’s True, which is more monotonous than the others. But what the crowd wants, the crowd gets…

Dealing with the “Nore-witch” ‘lads well, Brown asks if anyone has been to Corby (where they recently played) and quickly adds “Don’t say Corby’s a shithole”. It’s not long before he follow ups, with a smile: “Fucking Norwich snobs”.

KC Marotta makes more than one appearance tonight (Picture: Jan Kelly)
KC Marotta makes more than one appearance tonight (Picture: Jan Kelly)

The highlight – perhaps inevitably – is Teenage Dirtbag, with Brown inviting MC Frontalot back on stage to rap a verse. This time he changes from nerdcore to pop rock as he jumps around in his jeans and hoodie.

It’s the song that has the most energy as they run around the stage banging bright red cowbells and maracas, with Brown still able to hit the high notes of the female “dirtbag”.

Wheatus: Not just a blast from the past (Picture: Jan Kelly)
Wheatus: Not just a blast from the past (Picture: Jan Kelly)

They’re “dad rock” personified, but Wheatus are still as enjoyable as they were in the early 2000s.

It’s a nostalgia-fest, but they have always been far more than just one-hit wonders. And by including some of their newer songs – such as People, which closes proceedings – it seems there might yet be much more in store for Wheatus.

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