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Punk-rock frontman, 8, rocks The Rockhouse in St. John's

Banana Vacuum onstage Saturday at The Rockhouse.
Banana Vacuum onstage Saturday at The Rockhouse. - Wendy Rose

The Rockhouse offered a mixed bag of music on Saturday, and the large crowd happily came out for the early show, starting promptly at 9:30 p.m.

Though earlier set times are an ongoing conversation in the St. John’s music scene, this particular show’s early start was dictated by Banana Vacuum lead singer Mark Cherwick — the 8-year-old hardcore punk frontman was already up past his bedtime.

Banana Vacuum entered the stage to a massive round of applause. It was immediately obvious that the crowd was here to see the youngest punk rocker in town.

The band launched into “Fluffy Unicorn Song,” off their 2017 RPM album, “Never Mind The Minions,” a witty tribute to The Sex Pistols’ “Never Mind The Bollocks.”

Surprisingly comfortable onstage, Mark provided some humour and background information between songs.
“Remember when you used to be one of those people who hated school?” Mark asked the crowd. “Well, I’m one of those people,” he said, before screaming the lyrics of “School Is The Worst.”

Other songs included “I Don’t Like It When My Sister Is Annoying,” “I Don’t Like Eating Eggs,” and “Don’t Try To Feed Me Avocados.” The band also debuted a new song about Mark’s hatred of celery.
Forgetting some of the lyrics to the less than a week old song, Mark looked up to his older brother and guitarist, Jacob Cherwick of The Kubasonics, for help with the words – an endearing moment of brotherly love.

One of my personal favourites, “I’m More Tired Than I’ve Ever Been,” about being “so done with this” and needing sleep, showed a remarkable insight into adult life – perhaps a co-write with his older sibling.
Jacob’s influence was especially present on this number, as it transitioned into Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades.”

When the set was over, I had tears in my eyes, overwhelmed by just how awesome, adorable, and inspiring this performance was.

For the first time in a long time, local Ukrainian folk band The Kubasonics had a tough act to follow. Their lead singer – Jacob and Mark’s proud dad, Brian Cherwick – understood that, although this was The Kubasonics’ tour finale, Banana Vacuum had stolen the show.

Throughout their hour-long set, the five-piece band mesmerized the audience with their fast-paced folk tunes, impeccable musicianship, impossibly fast tempos and insane energy levels.

Maria Cherwick — the annoying sister mentioned in the Banana Vacuum hit – was absolutely flawless on Saturday, fiddling with intensity.

The Catalina Reapers closed out the evening with danceable but grungy tunes, their music edging between rockabilly and punk rock at times. There was an obvious hint of Mark Bragg and The Butchers – Bragg is the band’s guitarist – and an identifiable taste of Tom Waits, which makes sense, seeming this band was born out of a Tom Waits open-mike night.

The show finished around 1:30 a.m., giving Brian Cherwick at least a couple of extra hours to sleep before making breakfast for his musical family – hold the eggs and avocados, please.

Still discussing Mark’s performance, my pal mused, “I wonder what he will be doing in 10 years,” to which another friend replied, “In 10 years, he still won’t be able to get into bars.”

I'm not thinking that far ahead yet – I'm just looking forward to the next album.

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