The Washington state punk-pop trio MXPX played it just as they advertised it — hard, fast and loud — at the first of two soldout Palace gigs. The band moves mostly in underground circles, following the release of early albums on Seattle Christian punk label Tooth & Nail, but after more than seven years of touring, the group’s concerts are just as good as those by similar-sounding but more profane-acting bands such as Blink-182 or Green Day.
Show began with a recorded sample of the Who’s “Baba O’Reilly,” with MXPX jumping into the song at just the right spot (as Nirvana did with the same song at the Sports Arena in 1992). They then quickly launched into their own “Buildings Tumble,” a tune about finding inner strength, from their fine 2000 album “The Ever Passing Moment” (A&M).
The threesome raced through no less than 24 songs in just over an hour, showing off their individual musicianship with lots of tight and quick turns, stops, changes and fills, as well as revealing their impressive and ever-growing catalog of catchy pop-punk songs.
Memorable tunes such as “The Next Big Thing,” “Middle Name” (“Emotion is my middle name”), “I’m OK, You’re OK” and “Small Town Minds” (from a 1997 EP) didn’t preach or include particular religious references, but all helped drive home a positive mindset that’s generally lacking in teen-targeted popular music.
Other standouts included instrumental “Theme Fiasco,” a progressive-rock-styled workout from 1998; their charming 1996 single “Move to Bremerton”; and the regular-set finale “Chick Magnet,” one of MXPX’s best tunes.
A brief encore featured a sloppy cover of the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” MXPX’s 2000 entry “Responsibility” and what’s become the band’s usual closer, 1995’s riotous “Punk Rawk Show.” A nine-song MXPX EP titled “Renaissance” is due out in May.