Last Night: The Misfits, Juicehead, Hood Rat, Electric Vengeance, The Hammercocks Trees November 14
Better than: carving Crimson Ghost jack-o-lanterns with Evilive on.
The Misfits might have delivered a much more satisfying set last night than Glenn Danzig's recent train-wreck performance at this year's Fun Fun Fun Fest. Yet their song choices for their 36-song (!) set made the show somewhat disappointing.
The Misfits brand name has been around for 35 years, but when people come to see the live band behind the brand, do they really want a set overloaded with new material?
Sure, they have a new studio album out called The Devil's Rain, and it's their first collection of original songs since '99. But what does the average Misfits fan really want to hear more -- songs they can scream along to or just songs they nod to?
Well, Jerry Only, Dez Cadena and Eric "Chupacabra" Arce ripped through 11 songs before anything from the band's days with Danzig. Aided by a great light show and skeletons hanging off the microphone stands, songs like "The Devil's Rain," "Vivid Red" and "Land of the Dead" had a good punch, but everything sounded incredibly bass-heavy. As a result, Only's and Cadena's vocals were difficult to make out over Only's distorted bass and Arce's large bass drums.
There weren't many breaks between songs, which was fantastic. People knew songs from Static Age, Earth A.D. and Legacy of Brutality would eventually come. And when songs like "She," "Death Comes Ripping," "Halloween" and "Skulls" jumped out, the audience was elated. The band even threw in a couple of songs from their first post-Danzig release, American Psycho, including the still-potent "Dig Up Her Bones."
As a showman, Only was his usual self -- and that was perfectly fine. His devil lock hairdo and black eyes with his spiky leather jacket always cut a major presence in any room. As a vocalist, he tried his best as his right hand rumbled bass strings. Sometimes his voice was great, but other times it felt painfully off.
After doing a number of older songs, including "Where Eagles Dare," "Hatebreeders" and "All Hell Breaks Loose," the band almost called it a night after "We Are 138." The stage curtain wasn't closed for even a minute before the band returned amidst chants of "One more song!" As the band ended with "Attitude" and "Die, Die My Darling," the audience seemed satisfied. When Only came into the crowd and signed autographs, the remaining fans were even more satisfied.
Four bands played before The Misfits' 11 o'clock start. Locals The Hammercocks had to set up along the lip of the stage in front of the headliner's equipment and they looked squished in the process. Their songs were fast and punky with strained lead vocals, with 12 songs in 20 minutes. Electric Vengeance got to play for more than 45 minutes and the crowd dug them. But their jokey take on early Metallica/Megadeth/Anthrax wore out its welcome only a couple of songs in.
Hood Rat, the other local opener, put on yet another performance of wallpaper mosh music. Speedy metal with plenty of lead guitar squeals is not a bad thing, but it is when the band is fronted by a singer who moves like he had been kicked in the head and sings like he had been kneed in the jaw.
Juicehead, however, gave the crowd a respite from all the metal-tinged punk. The Chicago trio sounds like many other Chicago pop-punk bands, especially ones from the '90s like Squirtgun and Screeching Weasel. The crowd appreciated what they were about, even their cover of a Billy Bragg tune.
Personal bias: I knew of The Misfits long before I ever heard them. As a child of the '80s who got into skateboarding around 1986, the Crimson Ghost logo was seen here and there, even in suburban New Orleans. Yet it would not be until 1997 that I finally heard songs like "Horror Business" and "Night of the Living Dead." I've remained a fan ever since.
Random quote: "Not used to playing sober," went a member of The Hammercocks before starting a song.
By the way: Saw a couple of families with small children in the audience. And the kids were dressed up like it was Halloween. Start 'em young and they'll never forget.