The Misfits and The Dickies
House of Blues
More than three decades in, The Misfits are still doing it, with or without Glenn Danzig. To the orthodox practitioner of punk rock, watching these guys play power chords is as big as watching Black Sabbath or Metallica. It's something you'll be able to brag about to your faux-hawked children one day.
To celebrate their first new album in ten years, The Devil's Rain, the horror punk veterans played in Hollywood last night, to a house filled with loyal “fiend” fanatics from all walks of life. They were young and old, with their faces painted and wearing skeleton attire, some supporting Team Danzig, some supporting Team Jerry.
First on the bill were The Dickies. I only was able to catch half their set, but as usual their performance was complete with inflatable sex dolls, gorilla masks and oversized penis arm puppets for their performance of “If Stuart Could Talk.”
The band's frontman, Leonard Graves Phillips is as tight as ever with his sweet pipes. He covers his right ear to listen to himself during shows, belting out high pitched songs like “Waterslide” or their breakneck cover of Black Sabbath's “Paranoid.”
Just after 10 it was time for The Misfits. As the act did their sound check behind the curtains, the audience started to slowly chant “Misfits, Misfits.” The curtains finally opened to reveal a stage reminiscent of the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland. The microphone stands doubled as decomposing replicas of human bones, and there were more skulls than a Dia de Los Muertos festival.
At first, I thought I'd accidentally walked in to a KISS concert. Jerry Only's stage costume was not too different than Gene Simmons's, complete with oversize spikes, black leggings and knee high leather boots. But aside from that, his appearance hasn't changed much, though he has taken up the position of lead singer in the band.
The band's current guitarist is Dez Cadena, formerly of Black Flag and not metal-ized. He wore a black trench coat, long hair, and face makeup. Drummer Eric “Goat” Arce is formerly of the punk band Murphy's Law, and he also wore heavy face makeup.
They played more recent stuff for the first dozen or so of their songs, during which time there was no crowd surfing. Their new songs kept true to their ghoul and zombie storytelling roots, but had a more refined sound. The tracks were dominated by power chords. They then played played some of their more popular post-Danzig stuff, songs like “American Psycho” and “All Hell Breaks Loose,” and that's when the crowd started to get going.
But all hell broke loose when they played “Bullet.” The pit suddenly grew in size and strength, and everyone started to back up. This was followed by songs from the Danzig era. “35 years, are you guys having fun yet?” asked Only. He knew all those songs were like candy to their loyal fans, so he saved them for dessert. “Halloween,” and “Skulls” materialized.
For the last encore of the night, Only even took off his gimmicky costume for an emotional performance of “Die, Die My Darling” and “Attitude.” When their set was over, Only jumped off the stage and into the barricade. He smiled with excitement as people handed him e-tickets, Converse shoes and just about anything else to autograph.
Personal bias: I was one of those fans in the crowd who suddenly got really excited when they played “Bullet.”
The crowd: Senior citizen punks! Full fledged dudes that came with their wives and punk children, as well as a few young punks too who probably didn't know about the Danzig drama and enjoyed the set unbiasedly.
Overheard in the crowd: “See you in the Misfits pit?” “Nawh bro, I doubt it.”
Random notebook dump: Many of the girls at the show wore that Misfit girl band t-shirt. You know, the one with the image of some skeleton hands covering their boobs.
Set list below.
Land of the Dead
Twilight of the Dead
Cold in Hell
Jack the Ripper
Children in Heat
Dig up her Bones
Where Eagles Dare
Death Comes Ripping
All Hell Breaks Loose
Die Die My Darling