Get to Know: Friends w/o Benefits

What can I say about Friends w/o Benefits that hasn’t already been said? Well, considering they are a local band in their first year of shows, quite a bit.

With lovable in-your-face tactics and catchy grooves, this funky punk duo german-suplexes conventional wisdom off the top rope so they can make room for a good time. If you want to move, sweat, and get to know your neighbors, Fw/oB is a band for you. If you are looking to laugh and smilingly worry about your buddy’s safety, befriend Cadet Edac & White Trash Ninja. If you are wondering what the hell I am talking about, check these guys out tomorrow night at Neck of the Woods.


“Yeah, my name is White Trash Ninja, I play a character in a band called Friends without Benefits, and this is my bandmate Cadet, who also plays a character in a band called Friends without Benefits.”

I have heard that phrase so many times at Balanced Breakfast** I don’t mind quoting from memory. Over the past four months, I have grown to know and love Ninja & Cadet as human beings first & have been pleasantly surprised how they walk the walk in their music & performance. Their sense of humor, squirrely antics, and incessant talk about skateboarding and professional wrestling won me over *nearly* immediately (*squirrely antics take some time to process at 8am), and I wondered if these guys, who seem to be so out there, both as individuals and even more so as a duo, could pull together a rock show or an album. I didn’t know it then, but they were already in process of recording their first set of tunes for their 8 song comic-book release, This is Real, a phrase borrowed from Oakland’s premiere professional wrestling troupe, Hoodslam.


A few short weeks ago, I heard Fw/oB’s music for the first time. A delightful mix of pop & punk that filled me with nostalgia for my formative years sneaking a listen in to Green Day & Offspring. Not tooooo poppy. Not toooo punk. Would I call them a “moderate” punk band? Hilarious, and no. Not sure that anything about stopping in the middle of a song to climb mostly up a 12 foot ladder, pump up the crowd, and jump off to continue the drumbeat is moderate. They are going for real. Real entertainment. Real stories. Real fun.

DO NOT GO SEE FRIENDS WITHOUT BENEFITS if you are looking for a computer to do all the front-end labor of timing and pitch correction. The playing and singing are refreshingly LIVE and HUMAN. Both Ninja & Cadet’s instrument and vocals are on point, and they each have their own brand of show-stopping mayhem. Want to request a song? Fw/oB will be happy to see you now. Only they may publicly agree to play it and momentarily get sidetracked rocking out a Miley Cyrus cover. “Yeah, we’ll just play the first few bars, then we’ll play your request.” 2 1/2 minutes later, “well, we didn’t play your song, thanks for the suggestion tho, up next (guitar riff/facemelting).”

So come out tomorrow night, be prepared to jump around & get taken to a little place called “Right here. Right now.”


**Balanced Breakfast is a group of music industry professionals who meet every Thursday morning at the Crepe House on Valencia St at 8 am. Except for the month of September when they meet every Thursday night at Neck of the Woods at 6th & Clement between 6pm & 12midnight to play a series of shows*** together and build community and conversation. Want to join us? $5 single show & $20 for the whole month presales here.

*** Balanced Breakfast Residency. Bands on the docket for this Thursday are Growwler, The Y Axes, & The Oakland Mind. My band, The Damn Fanatics, is playing at the Balanced Breakfast Residency the following week on September 11th, with Bear Lincoln, Beautiful Machines, and DangerMaker. Music on Sept 18th & 25th as well. Bring yo self.


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