While Zebrahead’s new album may be a slickly produced collection of potential alt-rock radio hits, the Orange County quintet remains a rowdy party band capable of a variety of entertaining live sounds and styles. At the almost-full El Rey on Friday, the pop/punk/hip-hop crew was at its eclectic best.
Entering to the strains of an old Iron Maiden tune, Zebrahead offered 75 minutes of easy-to-digest, high-energy music that recalled such bands as Descendants, 311, Blink-182 and the Beastie Boys. The mostly teenage fans cheered, sang and moshed from beginning to end at the show, the band’s first area perf in more than a year.
The infectious songs — which addressed such youthful concerns as girls, trendy drugs, crime, and unreliable friends — were lifted from the band’s two Columbia efforts: the just-released “Playmate of the Year” and 1998’s comparatively raw “Waste of Mind.”
The standout portion of the impressive concert was the inclusion of the somber “What’s Going On,” a new track that touches on date rape and schoolyard murders. “Ready or not, the world moves on,” sang frontman Justin Mauriello after recounting a host of horrific crimes against kids.
Lighter moments included a dancing contest between two fans, following “Hey Kid,” that earned the winning guy a band T-shirt, and encore “Playmate of the Year,” which featured an onstage appearance by the reigning title-holder, Jodi Ann Paterson. Show ended with 1998 fan fave “Get Back” that was capped by a brief yet unmistakable Metallica riff.
Zebrahead is the opening act for 311’s fall U.S. tour, starting Oct. 9 in San Francisco — a fact mentioned by the band at least five times at the El Rey.