The Creeps / Fear of Lipstick Bovine Sex Club, Toronto ON August 26

The Creeps / Fear of Lipstick Bovine Sex Club, Toronto ON August 26
Don't know if you've heard, but it's safe to like pop punk again. After a decade in the wilderness of being commodified and bastardized, a whole new wave of zippy bands with shamelessly heartfelt, sing-along catchy choruses and time-tested compact riffs are slowly and steadily gaining new ground on the indie circuit.

Ottawa's the Creeps have been at it themselves for over a decade, mind you, without showing any signs of slowing down. Led by Skottie McCash, whose gravely voice is the perfect counterpoint to his snotty delivery, the Creeps lit up the Bovine with a hearty mix of new songs and crowd favourites as they consistently do on their periodic Toronto visits. Mixing true-blood rock'n'roll riffs with harmony-packed vocals (courtesy of drummer Jordy Bell), the band set themselves apart from the uber-serious punk crowd with a goofy sense of humour and nerdy stage presence. While not deviating too far from their own interpretation of Ramonesology, they've proven time and time again that they can get the blitzkrieg boppin'.

Moncton, NB's Fear of Lipstick share a similar philosophy, playing tightly paced odes to suburban angst and teenage lust. With a slightly poppier edge reminiscent of bands like the Hex Dispensers, the Marked Men and Sonic Avenues, Fear of Lipstick may have had the middle slot this evening, but their enthusiasm came across as if they were headliners, certainly giving the Creeps a run for their money. Any band who introduce themselves in the style of Cheap Trick from At Budokan ("this is the first song from our new album") deserves hubris points, and from that early moment on, Fear of Lipstick delivered a strong set of fun punk.

Both bands are convincingly capable of turning out radio hits, and perhaps in cooler parallel universe, they are.