Teenage Fanclub at Ophelia’s Soapbox: Intimate,  Nostalgic, and Brilliant

Teenage Fanclub at Ophelia’s Soapbox: Intimate, Nostalgic, and Brilliant

May 22, 2024 0 By John Cargile
Teenage Fanclub featured Photo courtesy of HighroadTouring.com/Donald Milne

Glasgow’s Teenage Fanclub, a joyously noisy band that produces beautiful harmonies, pulled into Denver a few weeks ago to celebrate great music and life changes, along with a loving crowd at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox. Unlike so many one-hit wonders, this crew have been steadily releasing fantastic music over the years, aging like rest of us with – grace, humor, and always celebrating their craft.  

Teenage Fanclub playing at Ophelia's Electric Soapbox, 2024 (Photo, John Cargile)
Photo: John Cargile

The band’s 20-song setlist rolled across nine albums and more than three decades, lovingly mirroring their own lives, the life of the band, and those in the crowd. Starting out the music  with “Home” – “I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever be home again, I just don’t know when I’ll open that door again” and “Tired of Being Alone” – “Memories uncovered, Gone around and rediscovered” made us all feel the life lessons on the journey, and they followed then with “About You,” “Take my time and I can find my way.”

I’d been waiting my entire life to see Teenage Fanclub play those songs.

A couple of songs later “Alcoholiday,” with its beautiful feedback, comes on – and I’m reminded of my buddy Bill Knox (RIP), who hung with a local band with the same name. This beautiful, intimate song truly encompasses drastic changes we all face in life. “All I know is all I know, What I’ve done I leave behind and I don’t know my soul to find me.”

They cruised through the set with confidence and joy, singing about bad worlds and avoiding control. Middle-aged lyrics over power pop. In the silence of everyday, we forego the joys of our adolescence, paying the mortgage instead of banging our heads. What happened when we listened to John Peel for advice? These are the thoughts I imagined were running in and around all of our minds in the audience – I know they were in mine. 

I loved “The Conceptfinishing out the regular set, then “Everything Flows” completing the night. I’d been waiting my entire life to see Teenage Fanclub play those songs. To hear “I’ll never know which way to flow, Set a course that I don’t know” live made me realize how much this act guided me through so much.

Check out John’s Spotify Playlist matching the show!

So many bands from the ’90s have survived through vinyl, cassettes, compact discs, MP3s, streaming and, coming around again, vinyl. Teenage Fanclub was one of my favorite acts, and they released two of the best albums of that decade in Catholic Education and Bandwagonesque of the 90s that cemented by Sonic Youth and Pavement in the hearts of many. 

Kurt Cobain famously called Teenage Fanclub the “best band in the world.” So it was incredibly cool to see the band from Glasgow in Denver years after the Nirvana at the Denver Coliseum show. The crowd at Ophelia’s was as you might think it would be, and there were lots of band shirts – The Church, Jawkbreaker, Dinosaur Jr., Charlatans, The Cure, yet the ones I love the most were the classic stencil art Teenage Fanclub Shirts (which looked just as great on Ben Gibbard). Desktop publishing was becoming a thing in the early Fannies era, and this stencil spray painted tour shirt was a last ditch effort at our childhood. 

And those bands are now playing festivals together this summer, while Teenage Fanclub is doing their own tour and playing all types of venues. I have to think Ophelias was one of the most intimate, and that was such a gift to us in the crowd. 

See you get older every year

But you don’t change.

Or I don’t notice you changing.

I think about it every day,

But only for a little while.

And then the feeling

Everything Flows, Teenage Fanclub

Check out the Spotify Playlist matching the show!

Threader

  • John Cargile

    John Cargile teaches and DJs for hundreds of Denver yogis and his power yoga classes. His southern roots of soul and pop music melded with indie and dance music in Colorado over the years.