I met my date in The Lobby Bar at the MGM Grand for some pregame drinks and catching up. I hadn't seen her in a while, she looked great, and it was good to catch talk with her. She was the reason why I was at this ass kiss sellout fiasco in the first place. She said there was nobody she'd rather see the Misfits with than me. I almost believe her. So we're sitting there at the bar in prime position for people watching, knocking back in record time some Guinness / Jameson neat combos that would cripple most normal drinkers after just a few. I can drink like a motherfucker, she tells me, and this I have no problem believing... ha ha ha I'm sitting there chatting with her for hours before the gig, and watching the crowd walking around was worth the price of admission alone. Seemed everyone thought to wear every piece of Misfits apparel they owned all at the same time to the show, in some vain egotistical effort to prove to others just how much of a bigger fan they were than anybody else in the world. It was pretty pathetic and made me feel a bit queasy about being there, but oh well. Wasn't like I paid for the tickets - she did. And if you were one of the suckers who bought tickets to the show the minute they went on sale, well you got what you deserved. The day of the show they were practically giving away tickets (floor for $65, nosebleed for $10) and that's what she did and got some primo seats no problemo. Sometimes it pays to be patient and see how things are gonna play out in the end. ;)
The gig starts at 7. FEAR goes on first at 8, which is a travesty and a sham. FEAR opening up for those lame-o's Alkaline Trio? Who's idea was that? Is this the 'something old, something new and ghey' line of thinking here? LOL You wanna go see FEAR play? she asks, me, and I tell her not really, I didn't go see them when they played The Dive earlier this year, and that I'm happy just sitting there with her, drinking and talking and gambling, and so we do just that. So I missed seeing FEAR play a big half empty arena. Boo Hoo. And there was no way I was going in there to see Alkaline Trio play, because I'm not an Emo girl that shops at Hot Topic, nor an effeminate male who wishes he had a pussy between his legs and is empathetic to the emotional needs of clingy females. Jab jab. So we missed seeing them play too. Oh well. I was feeling so good I didn't give a shit about seeing the Misfits play. I really didn't. Some friends texted me and said they were drinking at Pub 1842 and to meet them there, so we closed out our cards and stumbled our way to the pub. It was 9-ish. We still had time before the Misfits were supposed to play at 10.
I hadn't seen this particular couple of friends in years. We were once as thick as thieves and now we were just.. well, we just were. We ordered drinks and were catching up bullshitting and whatnot when we heard the roar of the crowd coming from the MGM Grand Garden Arena right next to us. The Misfits had hit the stage and we had missed it. Rats. We all quickly paid up our tabs and scrambled outside to deal with the nonsense of getting into the place, which included a long ass zig zagging queue and going through 2 metal detectors and putting your cell phone in some sort of locked purse device so you couldn't take pictures or videos of the show. Whatever. Who would want to anyways, ya know? People made a big deal about it on social media but I didn't give a fuck. It's annoying trying to watch a band through a sea of people using their cell phones to video tape the band instead of just watching the band and rocking out. All these overkill security measures seemed silly and useless but whatever. If Danzig didn't want unflattering pictures of his bulging gut or growing bald spot what did I care? Thankfully everybody was already inside the place, so going through all this unnecessary BS was relatively painless and quick. After scurrying past the massive merch display we ducked into a dark opening and BAM! there they were, The Misfits, in all their old, fat, bald, beefcake glory, for better or for worse, and they were ripping through 20 Eyes and it sounded terrible! ha ha ha We wandered around past groups of workers and Metro police, who were EVERYWHERE, and nobody asked to see our tickets or seemed to give a fuck what we were doing, since everybody's attention was turned to the spectacle unfurling on the massive stage at the end of this massive arena. Since nobody was checking our tickets we just wandered down towards the floor until we found some pretty sweet VIP box seats with reclining chairs and a great view of the stage and parked our asses there for the entire show. Nobody bothered us, nobody cared, and the people who were in there when we walked in just got up and left when we entered, so we had the place to ourselves. I laughed because they probably were seat hopping just like we were... lol
The drinks were flowing, the vape pen was glowing, so now onto the show! ha ha First off, the stage. It's adorned on each side by the jack-o-lanterns from the Halloween single, which was cool to see, and above them and to the sides of the stage are huge video monitors showing cheesy looking videos that corresponded to whatever song the Misfits were playing, and right now they were showing sci-fi aliens UFO stuff because they were playing I Turned Into A Martian as we settled into our seats and man did it sound like shit. Is feedback part of their shtick now? They sounded like every shitty Misfits bootleg I own, and it seemed to be on purpose! LOL Dave Lombardo was missing accents and fills, playing fast songs slow and slow songs too fast, Jerry Only's bass was thin, tinny and feeding back like a motherfucker, and Doyle's guitar was no better sounding or played. I'm almost 138% convinced that he doesn't play live, or if he does they have him turned down super low in the mix, because there were lots of times where his hand movements and arm actions didn't match any guitar playing sounds that were coming out of the monitors... ha ha ha At least they let backup guitarist / singer Acey Slade out in front now, and all the guitar sounds I was hearing I saw him playing. He sings A LOT of the lead vocal lines Glenn Danzig is supposed to be singing, which was shocking to see and hear. On songs like Vampira, We Are 138, Die Die My Darling, and Halloween, Acey would cover lead vocals while Danzig was off to the side somewhere breathing hard and adjusting his girdle. It's easy to see why he is having problems breathing with that outfit he's squeezed himself into on stage, and in between songs he kept complaining about how hot the spotlight was and asking why it kept following him around the stage. Oh, and about how there were "swinging dicks and sweaty balls" rocking out on the stage. Classic.
The travesty that it was, in between all the bursts of feedback and squeals and the shitty, overblown sound, at tiny moments, the band sounded almost good, especially on songs like Horror Business, All Hell Breaks Loose, London Dungeon, and She, but for the most part it was out of tune, out of time, noisily glorious squawking, with the band fucking up songs like Green Hell, Last Caress, Where Eagles Dare, and most sadly Mommy, Can I Go Out And Kill Tonight?. They pretty much fucked up every song they played off of Earth A.D. come to think of it, which was weird, because I thought that would of been the material best suited for Dave's aggressive attack drum style. The real surprise to me was the unexpected songs they played, stuff like Some Kinda Hate (I never heard it played live before), Who Killed Marilyn? (which Danzig prefaced as a solo song and NOT a Misfits song), Violent World (a song Danzig said wasn't played at Riot Fest), and Attitude, the final song of the 4 song encore they played before calling it a night. I lost count, but I think they played about 25 songs, which is pretty good for a bunch of old fucks like the Misfits. They could of played for another hour or so and it wouldn't of made a difference. Nobody was at this place to hear the music - they were there just to say they were there, just to check another aging band they grew up listening to off their bucket list of "Iconic bands to see before you die". It was a fun gig but not because we all were just cheated by the Misfits, but because we were all there tongue firmly planted in cheek and all feeling a bit better and happier when it was all said and done. Highlight of the evening for me was watching the crowd herd out en masse, fingers all a flutter with their precious phones in their hands, now free of the evil constraint bag device, typing away to friends and to social media how much more cooler they were than anybody else now that they'd seen the Misfits play and you didn't... LOL It was also funny to hear Danzig bitch about EVERYTHING in between songs. Damn cantankerous crusty curmudgeon! Bitter much?? LOL Fun night!! :)
Why go to LA to see Sparks play? Why the fuck not!! LOL I don't know if they've ever played in Las Vegas before, but I'll be damned if I was gonna wait to find out if they were going to this time around! I missed their residency at some hotel lobby somewhere a few years ago in LA, and I missed the John Anson Ford residency a few year before that, so the thought of missing Sparks' residency at the El Rey Theater was just antithetical to my very musical being. Their new album Hippopotamus, is nothing short of amazing, and for the chance to see it performed live I wasn't going to be deterred by a measly 4 hour trek through the desert from one state to another on a Tuesday night. No fucking way.
I took Erika to Puffy Taco in Whittier, because the last time I went there on a Sunday it was closed, but today we got the full treatment y todo, which was extra sweet because Erika had never been there before. We grubbed and headed Downtown to the historic El Rey Theater, killing time by hanging out at the Five Guys Burgers across the street, getting high, talking to people standing in line to get in, and once we got in, it was great because the room is majestic, all draped in red velvet and huge overhead hanging crystal chandeliers, and the stage had great view lines from all over the room. No seats though, which sucked. We hung around for a bit before the opening act Les Scissor Sisters took to the stage, and I just stood there dumbfounded. 2 girls vaguely looking like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany's, sitting at sewing machines, miming to backing track songs about sewing and cutting fabric and making clothing. They were probably the shittiest act I've ever seen in my life, and I used to go to $2 Tues. at the Cathay de Grande!! LOL As my mind struggled to find an angle to somehow describe the atrocity my eyes were witnessing, I saw something else that was even more horrifying - the crowd. They were eating it up!! Clapping and howling like they were witnessing Jesus Christ himself spitting fire on the mic, the crowd of mixed up various aged Sparks music fans were just... deeply into it. I couldn't even look at the direction of the stage anymore, because I was feeling nauseous from the musical spectacle unfolding in front of me. Praying for time to speed up, I nursed my drink in the corner of the room recoiling in disgust as the Scissor Sisters finished their act to thunderous applause. Art for Art's sake. Whatever.
It didn't take long for Sparks to hit the stage, thank gawd. The backing members of the band came out first, dressed like black and white versions of Italian gondoliers, and then the Brothers Mael came out and the shit jumped off. Opening up with What The Hell Is It This Time, off their just released album Hippopotamus, the band slowly built up this aural wall of awesomeness that lead to the next song At Work At Home At Play (complete with acapella intro), from 1974's Propaganda album, which was just blowing my mind. They sounded soooooooooo fucking good. I wanted to cry. They played Good Morning, a song I only know from a live album, a bunch more from the new album (Missionary Position, Edith Pilaf, Hippopotamus, Probably Nothing, I Wish You Were Fun) including my favorite song off the album, Scandinavian Design, which sounded divine. Sparks did Sherlock Holmes (NOT the song I wanted to hear from their seminal 1982 album Angst In My Pants), and Dick Around, with the dynamics in that song being handled perfectly by the live band. They were a bunch of young hipster schooled musician kids but damn were they killing every song they were playing. It sounded orchestral... it sounded glorious. If it wasn't for the 2 smelly homosexuals drunkenly dancing and bumping into everybody directly in front of us, I would of been having the time of my life, but these guys were just being overly obnoxious. They kept bumping into Erika, and when I switched places with her and stood there daring them to bump into me, they decided they had better things to do and left. Smart move on their part. Probably saved their lives. I went back to watching the show uninterrupted, and when the opening lines to No. 1 Song In Heaven started ringing out loud, I lost my shit. I wished those gay guys were back in front of me so I could apologize and dance with them, because I was so happy!! hahahaha Sparks sounded amazing, with the live guitars and drums making the techno song sound thunderous and majestic. Right in the middle of the song Ron did his patented sideways smiling happy guy dance, and the place went wild. Then immediately afterwards they played This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us, and I died. I literally died.
When I came back around, Sparks was ending the set with that weird duet song that ends the album, with the girl who sang on the album recreating her parts live on stage, and then Russell introduced the band, gave a little 'Thank you' speech, and it was over. The band left the stage to thunderous applause, and we all just sort of stood around going 'what now?'. We were all yelling and screaming for Sparks to play an encore, and after a bit they did, coming back out and playing a trio of songs that ended with them going back to the Kimono My House album for Amateur Hour, which sounded brilliant. Then the lights came on and it was over. Security was pushing people out the door and the place was half empty when Sparks came running out again and played Nicotina. Oh it was perfect. Since the place was practically empty we just walked up close to the band, and watched them play, uncrowded and up close and personal. It was cool. When the show was really over, Erika and I hit the merch stand, grabbed shirts and badges and autographed CD's, walked back to our cars, blazed up and jumped back on the freeway, laughing at the fact that we had just driven out to CA to see Sparks, one of our favorite bands, and now we were driving back, amped up from seeing the band play live, and too hyped up from hearing all that amazing music to sleep. The drive back was effortless, with us making it home just as the sun was coming up, totally exhausted and totally spent but happy. What a great fucking night. Sparks. <3
When the Hell did the Double Clown get air conditioning? LOL You can actually breathe in there now, and it doesn't smell like failure and regretful bad decisions anymore! I was shocked! It was almost like they finally heard all of us complaining about it and finally decided to open up the ol' purse strings and lay out a few shekels to update and improve the AC - kudos! Now if they would only buy an actual solid PA and mics and cables and some monitors and hire a soundman (the return of Bob perhaps?) then maybe I would support the place again. Highly doubtful that's going to happen, but I can dream, can't I? ha ha ha I could actually breathe while I was in there playing drums for Lean 13, the new super group of self-proclaimed assholes making their performance debut last Friday night there, which was shocking. It was hotter than Satan's nutsack outside, so literally the only place to be was inside, where it was nice and cool. Nice. And. Cool. Since every band playing tonight was using my drumset, once the Double Down Radio show was finished, I dragged my kit up there on the stage and started setting up, essentially giving the night it's official kick off. Whoopie.
Opening band Hungry Ass Youth blew it from their opening Cro-Mags cover onwards, playing drunk, fast and loose but they seemed to be having fun, and that's the whole point when you're in Vegas really, isn't it? They had a great sound, rippin' guitarist, vocalist on point and energetic, good drummer, bass player just kind of stood there but that's what bass players do, and if it wasn't for the covers (one an Agnostic Front song they dedicated to Carlos) I'd of liked them more. The original songs they were playing were sooooooooo good, it was sad to see them wasting their stage time on playing covers they kept messing up. I mean, who doesn't know Ace Of Spades, fer Christ's Sake?? LOL The crowd was digging the shit out of them though, so what do I know? Hungry Ass Youth are a good band, just gotta stay away from the covers, maang. I dug em, and I'm looking forward to the upcoming release. Next band As One were a bit too xXHardCoreXx for me, but they were OK, reminding me of bands I'd see play The Hammer House back in the daze (breakdowns sooooo angry!!!). They were hard hitting, loud, and brutally brooooootaaaal. Crowd dug the shit out of them too. I didn't pay them too much attention, because I was preoccupied with talking to a bunch of people who had come out to the gig, but every now and then I'd hear a killer riff and look at the stage and see the band killing it up there. As One. Good stuff.
After a technical difficulty with the bass equipment, the debut of Lean 13 duly commenced. Couldn't tell you how we sounded, couldn't even tell you what the crowd was doing while we played, but all I can tell you is that I was shocked that I could actually breathe while playing the drums up there. It was crazy. I heard people clapping and yelling and stuff, so it wasn't like we sucked or anything... I think. The set went by too quickly, and our half hour was over in like 20 minutes. Few mistakes but they were miniscule. Afterwards quite a few people went out of their way to say some nice words about our performance, and that's always a great thing to hear. Since Los Carajos wasn't playing, and I have no idea why they weren't, the show was officially over, so I packed up my shit, posed for some pictures by the marquee with me band mates, and then Erika and I said our goodbyes and went on our way in search of our usual tacos. Plus we had our friends in Headnoise waiting for us at the house, so we had to get up and go. Everybody was tired, everybody was calling it a night and everybody was heading home. Gawd we're old... ha ha ha ha Nice little night though out at the Double Clown. Who would've thunk it??? lol
Voodoo Glow Skulls / Buck-o-Nine / The Porkers / Guilty By Association / Light 'Em Up @Backstage Bar & Billiards
The parking lot directly behind Triple B's was near capacity by the time Erika and I got Downtown. I mean, we literally got one of the last three parking spots available in the parking lot, and as we were walking towards the backdoor of the venue we heard numerous people complaining to the attendant that there was no place to park and that they wanted their money back. Suckers. When we got to the sidewalk there was a line of people all queued up standing around going nowhere fast, so we decided to head over to Flippin' Good Burgers for a quick grub sesh, where we ran into Carlos S.F.T. and his lovely wife Christy. We chatted with them for a bit before getting our grub on, and after that we headed back to Triple B's to find that the line was still not moving, WTF? Something didn't seem right, and after debating whether to stand in line to wait to get into a gig to only see 1 band on the bill play, I noticed the people standing in line were a little better dressed and a little better smelling than the usual Voodoo Glow Skulls crowd, and that's when I saw someone cut through the line to go directly into Backstage Bar & Billiards, so we crossed the street and did the same, just in time to hear Guilty By Association playing on stage. Turns out that the reason there was a line was because some comedian Hannibal Buress holding court next door at Fremont Country Club, and that's what people were waiting in line for, not the VGS gig.
As quickly as I could I made my way through the throng of people just standing around looking bored in the back of the venue, heading towards the front of the stage where the action was, Erika in tow, and I only tripped once over someone's feet while doing so. GBA was in the middle of one of their patented fast paced high energy set of tunes, and the faithful in the crowd were jumping and slamming around and fist pumping and singing along to everything Mike was screaming / growling / barking into the microphone. Mike's the consummate pro frontman, and he has a way of charming a crowd into doing his bidding, beer bottle in hand. He did his thing as Bobby and Craig riffed and noodled away behind him, and Craig and David paced it all and kept the bottom end popping and the people moving. They played songs from all their releases; American Decay, Coming Home, and the crowd was digging it big time. Love that they get the response that they do. I never get to see it when I'm behind the kit, so it's kind of cool to watch. Circle pit action was heavy throughout their set and when the band was done playing the applause was well deserved. Guilty By Association always brings it, 100% every time, and this night was no exception. Good stuff.
My camera was acting up during GBA's set, making the process of taking pictures during their set difficult. I tried fucking with my camera while the guys in The Porkers were setting up, but whatever was wrong with my camera was only getting worse, so I didn't take too many pictures of The Porkers while they played, but that didn't matter, because I was so busy watching the band that I didn't really wanna focus on taking pictures of them. They were soooooooooo good! They were energetic, had a great classic Ska sound, top level musicianship all around, and their front man put on one hell of a show. He was engaging, personable, unreserved, and charismatic. It was like you were drawn to him, forced to watch him and what he was doing. The other guys in The Porkers were no slouches, but the bass player had major problems the first few songs of their set, which kind of killed things a bit, but the guitarist, the horn players, and everyone else on the stage were all jumping around and rocking out like Ska players tend to do, and the drummer is that guy who does those 5 minute band career mashup videos on YouTube, for what it's worth. He was really good. The energy in the room was electric, and the crowd was digging the shit out of the band. People were skanking around, just happy and smiling, and The Porkers made it all happen. As if there was any other way to end the set, the band did an Elvis Presley cover, complete with the singer from The Porkers hamming it up and acting like the King himself, posing and posturing it up big time for Burning Love. Yeah, never actually saw The Porkers before (they were background music at some Ska festival I went to years ago) but man, I gotta say, they impressed the ever loving shit out of me with this performance. Gawd damn they were good. I made a beeline after the gig to buy every bit of merch I could get my grubby hands on. I even contributed to the "We like weed" jar on the merch table. ;) The Porkers. Great stuff.
I can only imagine that somewhere in the world there is a huge vacuum strong enough to suck all the energy and good feelings out of a room, and if that vacuum were to have a name, it would be called Buck-O-Nine. Peeeeeeeee-yuuuuuuuuuuwww did they stink!!! I've seen them before and they were OK, but tonight was just not their night, probably because of the crowd though. I stood around embarrassed and horrified watching the crowd of Bro Hymn types put on a testosterone laced display of drunken stupidity, only highlighted by the shitty OPIV and Clash covers the band was mixing in with their original milquetoast tunes. Ugh. They couldn't end quick enough for me, as I was bored to tears during Buck-O-Nine's set. Mediocrity at it's finest. Phooey.
Thank Gawd for the Voodoo Glow Skulls. I can honestly say that I've never seen them play a bad show, no matter how stoned or drunk they were, and I've been seeing them play for well over 25 years now, and tonight was no exception. Sure, Frank's voice is a little rougher, and no drummer ever will be able to fill up Jerry's drunken Vans behind the drum kit, but still, all these years later, they're still fucking phenomenal. Jorge and Eddie are still one of the tightest musical duos you're ever gonna see, and their bass and guitar riffs are what keep the band popping, even after all these years. After clearing the room up of the stink the earlier band filled it up with, the Voodoo Glow Skulls then put on a dazzling display of musicianship that blew everyone else that played before them right off the stage. It was the shit. They may be a bit older and fatter and covered in more tattoos, but the Voodoo Glow Skulls can still bring it anytime they want to, and tonight they brought it. They played all sorts of songs from all throughout their career, Closet Monster, The Band Geek Mafia, Thrift Shop Junkie, Insubordination, etc., and they all sounded great, and the crowd ate up every fucking bit of it, with lots of singing and jumping and skanking and slamming around, with lots of people slipping and sliding in the 1/2" thick layer of beer that was spilled all over the concrete floor of Triple B's. It made for fun people watching, that's for sure. My camera wasn't working for shit, the battery was dead, so I didn't get any pix of Voodoo in action, but that's OK, because I had more fun watching the gig than trying to document it. The band raged on, and when Charlie Brown came around on the setlist, Frank dedicated it to the late great Gabby Gaborno from the Cadillac Tramps, because he said Gabby told him he loved that tune the way they did it, and after a few more songs the Voodoo Glow Skulls called it a night. Nobody left disappointed, that's for sure. It was all chaos and confusion after the gig, and Erika and I made a beeline to the car to get the fuck out of there to head over to Scarlet for their Sisters Of Mercy tribute night. ;)
To see more Pictures of Guilty By Association, please click here. To see more Pictures of The Porkers please click here. Thank you drive through...