Teen Mortgage, Pure Sport and Hunter's Briefcase Put on a Smashing Good Show at The Griffin

LAS VEGAS, NV - The punk rock duo, Teen Mortgage (from Washington D.C.) made their way through Las Vegas on Sunday, March 19, 2023 on a chilly and rainy evening playing a show at The Griffin on Fremont Street with local support from Hunter’s Briefcase opening the show and Pure Sport closing the night out, and holy hell this show was nuts from start to finish.

First up, Hunter’s Briefcase played their set filled with alt-rock bangers that meld with dark lyrics and combine jam band elements without seeming like a jam band at all really. I have seen these guys a handful of times over the last year or so, and they are always fun to watch.

Everyone in the band brings a lot of talent upon their own instrument, and at some point in their set each player (Jake Mendoza - guitar/vocals, Carter Woodson - bass, Nic Mendoza - drums) will bust out a solo or a breakdown that will impress even the hoity toity rock snobs that think Led Zeppelin is the only band that should ever have existed (or whatever, you get my point).

The band played about 30 minutes to get the crowd warmed up, and after their set was over, a few more people started to fill the room as Teen Mortgage started setting their equipment up.

By the time Teen Mortgage started their set, the room was probably three-fourths full (so maybe like 40-50 people) which was a pretty good draw considering no one in Vegas leaves their house when it rains, and the foot traffic on Fremont Street was much lower than normal.

Teen Mortgage’s set consisted of some interesting live techniques I had never seen before including playing backing tracks through a pedal to start the set, play intermissions when singer/guitarist James Guille has to switch his guitar or tune it up, or just to have some cool noises. I don’t know exactly how it worked, but suffice it to say, I didn’t see any laptops or cellphones playing through any of the sound system…the only thing I can THINK is that it was a bypass pedal that had the ability to play another input when switched off, but I couldn’t quite tell what wizardry I was witnessing.

Another cool feature of the set was during one of these said intermissions, drummer Ed Barakauskas came around the drum set and shook hands with the front row of the crowd and thanked them for coming out. I thought it was a pretty cool way to show appreciation.

Aside from those unique features, when the band was actually playing, the crowd was going crazy and bashing into each other and on occasion falling in front of the band.

It was a high energy show, and for a band that would likely have a limited following in Vegas, the crowd asked for an encore from the band which is usually reserved for the closing band, but everyone was cool with it, and Teen Mortgage played one last song to get the crowd nice and sweaty.

In my head, I was sort of thinking to myself, “Damn, I am not sure how Pure Sport is going to follow that up, because those folks were going cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.” 

However, I have yet to see a show that Pure Sport didn’t show up and rise to the occasion, and this was no exception.

Almost immediately upon jumping into their first song, the crowd was back to moshing with enthusiasm, and far be it from the guys in Pure Sport to not want to join the party so, they too would get in the mix while still playing their instruments.

At one point towards the end of the set, guitarist Justin Tejada knelt down in the middle of the flying bodies, and just when I thought he was going to get trampled, the crowd managed to noticed this, and they all hunkered right down with him as if there was some sort of mysticism about his actions that got everyone on the same page immediately.

And speaking of Tejada, there was a point in the set where he climbed his amp cabinet, and jumped off which really isn’t easy to do in a room that dark as you never know if there is something slippery below or not.

The band rolled through all of their first EP, “Big Business,” and a couple other newer songs that are likely to come out on the next EP/album whenever that drops.

Singer Jared Scott cracked me up at one point in the set as the employee who was running the sound for The Griffin sort of had to double as security to keep the mosh pit from spilling into the equipment and damaging anything. Scott noticed the employee getting worried and staying there a bit long and tapped him on the shoulder and gave him the thumbs up to tell him, “We’re all good, you can head back to the sound board.” He did this all while singing the song and went right back into playing his bass.

Of course, the moshing didn’t stop by any means, they just seemed to be able to keep people in check all on their own in this instance.

Things actually got pretty hectic when the band played a cover of Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings” in the middle of the set, but as is usually the case, everyone walked away unscathed in the end…just a bit more covered in their own sweat and the sweat of others.

Pure Sport ALSO got an encore, and they played The Hives’ “Hate to Say I Told You So” which got the crowd pretty pumped up as well.

I don’t always remember to mention the promoters who put the show together, but this show (and the photo below -- see the man in the black and pink fake fur jacket) make it worth mentioning that Patrick from Pulsar Presents put this show on, and I definitely think he had a good time.

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