OFF! Trees Wednesday, September 19
Now that was a real pit.
It seems every touring rock act with a GA floor in front of them has one now. Hell, kids will swirl and crowdsurf in front of Evanescence these days, but last night's floor wasn't about old-schoolers showing up the youth. It was about a perfect storm of pent-up energy: an old- fashioned circle with a kinetic energy that flailed and skanked at a speed that could have cost you more than a spilled draft beer if you were standing close enough.
We positioned ourselves about two feet from the rim of the OFF! pit, just far enough back to probably not get crashed into but close enough where you might have to pitch in helping moshers back to their feet, or pushing a bewildered stray back into the melee.
See also: - Keith Morris: "When I think of a supergroup, I think of Asia"
And so it went, at a breakneck speed of roughly 27 songs in 40 minutes, as OFF! unleashed a conniption of speedy, two-minute SoCal punk songs through the meaty Trees PA. Mind you, this set was not about the music of the Circle Jerks, nor Red Kross or Burning Brides for that matter. Last night was four musicians who were having the time of their lives looking forward, instead of over their shoulders at their other bands.
Frontman Keith Morris had as much to get off his chest as the moshers did, and he clearly owned Trees last night, voicing OFF!'s set with a sturdy squall. He squinted and strained as he bellowed, but it wasn't due to old-man creakiness as much as pure emotion. Honestly, the only real signs of his age were dramatically thinning dreadlocks, but Morris couldn't have cared less. He spoke with genuineness, sang with furious conviction, and dominated the between-song banter, hitting touchy subjects like the upcoming election. It had been rumored his banter was as crucial to the show as the music, and the rumors were dead on.
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Their delivery was such a surprise, given the fact that OFF! are touring in a 15-passenger van, bare-bones-style, coast to coast, knocking out a whopping 15 shows in seventeen days time, with hardly a day, um, off. They attacked like they'd had 12 hours sleep and a delicious, nutritious breakfast, especially guitarist Dimitri Coats, who devoured like it was his last show ever. They were truly that spirited and merciless.
Then, as quickly as it began, it was down to the last four songs, as Morris thanked us not only for showing up, but "for paying attention." At just under 30 rabbit-punch punk songs in just over 30 minutes, you had better be doing just that.
Side note: The people-watching portion of the evening was clearly ruled by the broad variety of punk and hardcore band names represented on black t-shirts. For fun, a list of as many of them as your author could scribble before the show began:
The Sprints Agoraphobic Nosebleed Bad Religion Hellbilly Homicide Autopsy The Revolting Cocks 1310 The Ticket (hey, why not?) The Jesus Lizard Hellstomper Dixie Insane Mammoth Grinder G.G. Allin "Listen to the Germs" (worn by Keith Morris)