The Misfits show Saturday night, the first in a two-night sold out gig at the soon to be closed Key Club, left no room for wallowing in original lead singer Glenn Danzig's absence. Current singer and bassist Jerry Only grabbed the crowd by their sweaty nuts and tossed them about the pit like so many flecks of confetti.

The place exploded with liberty-spiked teenagers, old timer punks who have been following the band since its inception and confused, misplaced hipsters who came unaware that even though it might currently be cool to say you like the Misfits, the band are in and of themselves an institution and culture.

Misfits created a sturdy hardcore template; Credit: Nikki Darling

Misfits created a sturdy hardcore template; Credit: Nikki Darling

Much like Trekkies, ComicCon nerds, Furries or Dungeons & Dragons geeks, the Misfits are the punk rock Jimmy Buffett. They play to their fans and their fans come. And come they did. They climbed the walls and fancy-restaurant-style booths to recklessly flay their bodies into the swarming mass, one that pulsated like maggots on meat. Security guards hopelessly tossed about the center as they tried to pull weaker stragglers from the mess, simultaneously chasing the countless wallet-chained, Ronald McDonald-haired, eye-brow-pierced girls pushed onto the stage by friends; they grabbed at Jerry Only and then dove back into the crowd before the guards could catch them.

Eventually the sight became so comical that security gave up and the show became a free-for-all of stage-diving teenagers, who crowd-surfed before being summarily deposited back on stage.

Credit: Nikki Darling

Credit: Nikki Darling

The stage itself was set with the now requisite Misfits horror punk staples: gargoyles with red eyes and smoke machine mouths, giant Misfit skeleton faces draped over the drum kit, and mic stands outfitted with tiny prop shrunken heads whose fine fake hair blew ever so delicately in the wind created by the Misfits ever roaming bodies.

Despite all these tricks and gags, the band turned out a blistering performance that eclipses most anything any young punks might be doing today. Proving that props can take you so far but if you can't pluck the strings off your bass with just one hand — possessed of such thickness and strength as Jerry Only did — his other arm held up high in the air, his bass strapped tight to his chest, you can't play for shit. Don't try. The Misfits are still tearing assholes with their minute-long screamy anthems. They careened through most of the classics, including “Halloween,” “Where Eagles Dare,” and “Die, Die My Darling.”

The show ended with a ghoulish cinematic soundtrack, something that might be played as you walk through a traveling carny haunted house; Jerry Only walked slowly and majestically across the stage beating his chest and spitting water into the crowd, pouring it down his gullet and spitting it back into the crowd. Two assistants ran by his side, one to unhook his bass, the other to hand him endless bottles of water. Jerry O. held a Sharpie and signed black Chuck Taylors and Misfits posters that were tossed on stage.

If ever there was a band to understand the value of balancing showmanship and quality, the aging and revered boys from New Jersey take the prize. Danzig who?

LA Weekly