at The Troubadour
September 24, 2011
Better than... shows where the lead singer doesn't leave the stage, head to the bar, and throw back some tequila.
Though they sweat and bleed New York, D Generation has an L.A. fan base nearly as fervent as the one in their hometown. Saturday the seminal gutter punks packed the Troubadour as part of a mini-tour 12 years after their breakup. The beer-soaked sing-alongs and pumping tattooed fists harkened back to a time when rock n' roll was dangerous and vigorous.
The band, known for starting '90s-era New York rock club Coney Island High, have long been able to turn any gig into an arena-sized spectacle. Last night at the Troub was no exception. Singer Jesse Malin was downright giddy, moving in a frenzied way around the stage and into the crowd. The show commenced with their anthem, Reagan Youth's "Degenerated" and climaxed with tons of shredded newspapers dumped onto the crowd like confetti. We even spotted some LA Weekly logos! In between, the show was a relentless rock assault. It didn't devolve into a mindless mosh-slosh, not even when Malin, carrying the mic, went through the crowd to the bar, sat down and had himself a tequila shot.
D Gen's punk has undeniable pop appeal. Shades of The Ramones, The Stooges, Generation X and The Cars can be heard on their eponymous debut, as well as on their Ric Ocasek-produced follow up No Lunch and their final release Through The Darkness.
Malin, guitarists Danny Sage and Richard Bacchus, bassist Howie Pyro and drummer Michael Wildwood each has been rocking on individually since the group broke up more than a decade ago. Malin solo's work has gotten the most traction, with collabs with Ryan Adams and a duet with Bruce Springstein, while Pyro went on to play with both Joey Ramone and Danzig. (Pyro lives in L.A. these days and is a successful DJ around town).
D Gen toured with Green Day while writing what would be their last album. This was ironic because, like the pop-punk phenoms, they had the goods to hit it big: catchy songs and hooks, a feral presence, and rebellious lyrics with depth. One example was their encore last night: "No Way Out:" "Send us all to high school/Make us pray to statues/We hang on corners looking bored/All the rubbish that you cherish/With your hedonistic pleasures/And your latest status symbols/Just can't stay."
Not sure if this reunion marks a new beginning for D Gen, but after their critically lauded mini-tour, it'd be shame if it didn't. They've still got it, so why not use and bruise it some more? Saturday's show was brimming with a new -- yes -- generation of black haired Johnny Thunders-types and the chicks who love them, all of whom obviously live for this kind of cocky rock.
The opening act were sprite neo-glamsters Prima Donna, a charismatic band who in fact have toured across the globe with Green Day for the past couple years. They drove the point home: it's time for rock get a little degenerate again.
Personal bias: We know Howie Pyro from his deejaying in L.A. and other band work.
The crowd: They had black hair, black clothes, black bandanas, and black eyeliner.
Set list below.