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Concert Review: Unwritten Law, July 1, 2007, Boston, At Axis

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Warped Tour veterans and Southern California power punk rockers Unwritten Law came to Boston last Sunday, July 1st and rocked Axis, a small club across the street from Fenway Park, just hours after the Red Sox played.

For a Sunday night, the audience did show up, though it wasn't completely full to the brim. There were three opening acts, most notably Zebrahead, an Orange County, California punk/rap-rock band. The lack of a full house didn't seem to affect the band. In fact, Unwritten Law even had fun with the fans, with singer Scott Russo claiming early in the show that the last time he came to Boston, he was "wasted," then after some clatter said, "And you were too!."

This time around, the ambitious foursome from San Diego were here to promote The Hit List, their compilation of best known songs over a 17-year career that has found them covering lots of ground, from skate punk to hard rock and punk pop.

Tonight, they aimed to please their older fans, starting out with the excellent "Teenage Suicide" from their 1998 Self-Titled CD, then launching into heavy rockers like the acoustic-turned-grungy "Shoulda Known Better," where Russo even raps some verses.

"Celebration Song" came next and is perhaps one of the heaviest numbers in their catalog, and was followed by their semi-hit "Seein' Red." In the digital age we are in, the crowd took out their cell phones – instead of lighters, like the old days – and waved them in their air during the song's hypnotic instrumental parts and verses.

Well into the concert, Russo and guitarist Steve Morris traded cigarettes between new song "Welcome to Oblivion" and "Rest of My Life," done on acoustic by Russo, and the audience was then treated to such oldies as the Blink 182-ish "Shallow" and the crunch of "Up All Night."

Though the band was as tight as ever and Russo looked like he was having a blast, his stage antics were often hurting, not helping, him.

Shirtless for much of the show, Scott was dancing, smiling, and prancing around the stage a little too often, not singing into the microphone loudly enough at various points in the show. Don't know if he gave himself any of those mind-altering substances before the show that he referenced having taken the last time his band came to town, but Russo was at his best when he concentrated and had his guitar in hand. Yes, the crowd knew all the words to the songs and Russo fully realized this, but he let them sing a little too much (and should've sung out HIS lyrics a little more).

All in all, it was a strong set and a rockin' show, for a Sunday night, but with a little more energy and focus, it could've been even better.

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About Charlie Doherty

Copy editor/content writer for Penn Multimedia; print/web journalist/freelancer, formerly for Boston Examiner, EMSI, Demand Media, Brookline TAB, Suite 101 and Helium.com; co-head sports editor & asst. music editor at Blogcritics Magazine; Media Nation independent newspaper staff writer, printed/published by the Boston Globe at 2004 DNC (Boston, MA); Featured in Guitar World May 2014. See me on twitter.com/chucko33, myspace.com/charlied, & Facebook.