Concert Reviews

Misfits Made Our Halloween Dreams Come True Saturday Night

Misfits played a packed show at Dos Equis Pavilion on Halloween Eve Eve.
Misfits played a packed show at Dos Equis Pavilion on Halloween Eve Eve. David Fletcher
You wouldn’t think you’d see kids at a Misfits show, but there they were — children as well as teens, 20- and 30-somethings, old punks, posers and everyone who knew something legendary was happening Saturday night.

As fans entered the grounds of Dos Equis Pavilion on Saturday night, they were greeted with John Carpenter’s Halloween theme music, which gave way to chamber music fitting the dark castle imagery that filled the stage.

Then, the music changed again to the X-Files theme song, then again to the Benny Hill theme in anticipation of the night’s opener. FEAR played first, taking over for The Distillers, which had dropped earlier in the week.

On a stage flooded with red light, the band took the stage. Singer Lee Ving’s stance and slight stumbles showed his age, but not his voice or his intensity. The show opened with a call to action: ”1,2, 3, 4. 1, 2, 3, 4. Let’s have a war!”

FEAR occupied a small part of the stage made to host the theatrics of Alice Cooper, running through all of the group's most memorable songs — “Beef Bologna,” "New York’s Alright if You Like Saxophones” and “I Love Living in the City” to name a few — with gusto and Ving’s ever present harmonica, until the fire marshall shut them down after 30 minutes.

Legendary as FEAR is, though, it’s not the Misfits.

Neither is Alice Cooper for that matter.

Easy now. It’s not that Alice Cooper isn’t important. Without him laying the groundwork for dark stage performances, Cradle of Filth and Mercyful Fate might not have happened.

It’s just that, if you’re not a super fan, how many Alice Cooper songs do you really know after the ‘70s. That one from Wayne’s World? Exactly. That’s what he opened with, followed by “No More Mr. Nice Guy,”

Cooper and company made greater use of the stage and its props, revealing a coffin with Cooper’s signature eyes and makeup, a zombie rising from a trash can, demon babies, skulls and skeletons and more waiting in the wing.

The crowd filled out during Cooper’s set, with fans showing more engagement in the singer’s antics than FEAR’s stoic set.

All the hallmarks of an Alice Cooper show were present beyond the mere use of stage props. During Cooper’s performance of “Man Behind the Mask” from Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives, Jason made an appearance to slaughter a couple unsuspecting victims.

There was also an Igor-type character there to introduce “Eighteen,” an endless amount of jackets for the singer to wear; a giant, inflatable baby clown for “Billion Dollar Babies”; a living dead girl holding a candelabra for a dark wedding for “Roses on White Lace”; Cooper breaking out of a strait-jacket after being led in by giant mutant babies for “Steven” and subsequently beheaded for “I Love the Dead.”

Closing with “Escape” and a singalong version of “School’s Out,” complete with band introductions, the newly resurrected Cooper brought the night’s theatrics to an end, anticipating the much-anticipated headliner.

In just 20 minutes, the stage crew had broken down Cooper’s elaborate stage, leaving behind a black backdrop of seven screens, bright lights and giant pumpkins, mic stands made of chains and 24 glow-in-the-dark Crimson Ghost faces lining the cabinets and drum kit riser.

After an all-‘80s metal playlist of walk-in music, Misfits stormed the stage to absolute pandemonium with the hard-driving “Death Comes Ripping.”

There they were. The Misfits. The Original Misfits: The Jerry Only, Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein, Glenn Danzig Misfits. Slayer’s Dave Lombardo played drums while Murderdolls’ Acey Slade was added on rhythm guitar.

In the night’s second song, “I Turned Into a Martian,” Only, who has kept the band alive these past several decades, took over the vocal parts an aging Danzig couldn’t manage, just as he would throughout the night, just as any great hype man would.

After the third song, “Mommy Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight,” Only destroyed his first bass.

Knowing the history of tumult that has plagued the band, it was heartwarming to see Danzig share the mic during “Vampira” and formally introduce Doyle to the audience.

Throughout the set, Misfits never appeared on the Pavilion screens, which were instead filled with Misfits’ iconic imagery. The eyes of the audience were drawn to the stage, which the Misfits inarguably commanded.

Again, for those of us who grew up knowing only of discord between the band’s members, hearing Danzig speak warmly about writing songs like “London Dungeon” and “Some Kind of Hate” brought an air of completion to a night Dallas punks never thought they would see.

Danzig even spoke with humor, introducing an “old one” before admitting they were “all old ones” before going into “Horror Buisness.”

Before playing “Bullet,” a song written about the death of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Danzig relayed the story of when former Dallas Mayor Jack Wilson Evans, elected in 1981, threatened to arrest the members onstage if they ever played the song in Dallas. Shortly thereafter, the band brazenly played the song in Dallas for the first time in 1982. They weren’t arrested.

Acknowledging the time of year, Misfits, of course, played “Halloween.” Afterwards, Only smashed his third bass.

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Playing a song with the words “Texas is the reason that the president’s dead” in the chorus naturally elicited a word-for-word singalong from everyone in the crowd.

After “Hollywood Babylon,” the band unexpectedly left the stage, leaving Only to wonder if he would play the next song alone, but the drama was short-lived. Only was rejoined for a breathtaking rendition of “Earth A.D.”

Then Only destroyed his second bass.

In what seemed like no time at all, Misfits were running out of time in Dos Equis’ strict schedule, rounding out the night with select singles starting with “Where Eagles Dare,” “Who Killed Marilyn?,” “20 Eyes” and “Green Hell.”

Acknowledging the time of year, Misfits, of course, played “Halloween.” Afterwards, Only smashed his third bass.

Then it was just four songs — “Skulls,” “Die, Die, Die, My Darling,” “Astro Zombies” and “Last Caress” — and it was over. Except for Only smashing his fourth bass.

The crowd waited in the dark for just a few minutes before the band returned to the stage for a few more songs — “Night of the Living Dead,” “Violent World,” “Attitude” and finally, “We Are 138.”

Only smashed his fifth bass, and that was it. The day Dallas punks had long awaited was over.

For those who were there, seeing Misfits on Halloween weekend was a dream come true.

Was the whole thing kind of a cash grab? Probably so. The 20,000 capacity house was absolutely packed, and everyone was buying merch and lots and lots of alcohol.

Was it the most technically proficient show? Not really, but have you ever heard 1982's Evilive? Misfits have never been a great live band. Ever.

You might call it a cash grab. You might say that they suck live. But when thousands of people sing every word to songs that have been inscribed on their hearts for years, you must admit that you have experienced something legendary.
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David Fletcher writes about music, arts and culture for the Dallas Observer. You can usually find him at a show in Deep Ellum whether he's writing about it or not. A punk scholar and local music enthusiast, David focuses his attention on the artists screaming in the margins of Dallas' music scene.
Contact: David Fletcher

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