I’d like to make two things clear right from the get-go: A) I have absolutely no idea what exactly I’m trying to do here *(really, none – – – I’m flummoxed and running on a whim with this) and B) NO I did not have the honor to make either of the RIOT FEST performances, however, the entire show was “around” less than twelve hours after the performance *(and this of corpse being the one thing that wouldn’t/couldn’t happen, and myself being an hardcore original-era MISFITS fanatic, degrees to which are what give the word fanatic it’s very meaning), I goddamn right-well watched it on the spot, at some dreadful pre-dawn hour with insomniac, TV Casualty eyes. *(I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, THE MISFITS, and the many offshoots from that very Lodi, NJ tree: SAMHAIN; DANZIG; MOURNING NOISE, THE UNDEAD, etc., are some of but an handful of bands that got me through the shitpile of adolescence, being transformative in every sense, and eventually, naturally opening me up to evermore interesting realms of subgenres within subgenres of my sonic spectrum.)
At the same time, I’m reviewing two entirely different things. THE MISFITS of now *(fronted by co-founder/money-hype-machine JERRY ONLY) and the MISFITS of yore *(I feel another crack about REB BROWN would be not only too soon – – – I made it last review for Christ’s sake – – – but all too fitting, as JERRY is kinda the REB of vintage Punk – – – but I’ll get into all that soon enough, kinda – – – or as politely as possible) are TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT BANDS.
Essentially, how did the recently released NOW sound like in comparison with a long, long overdue *(perhaps too late) full-on reunion THEN-NOW? Now then, follow me, fellow Fiends, behind the curtains and up into the crypt for a little Walk Among The Dead:
This most recent release from the JERRY ONLY MISFITS WEDDING BAND EXPERIENCE *(I mean the MISFITS) is considerably better than October 4th, 2011’s THE DEVIL’S RAIN – – – almost entirely in that it’s shorter. Is it better than the 2015 VAMPIRE GIRL/ZOMBIE GIRL single? At least the single is shorter even than the FRIDAY THE 13th EP. *(I mention these particular albums together as they were all done with essentially the same line-up). Actually had those two songs been added to this EP being reviewed, it may have given a slight break from the monotony being delivered *(not that it would’ve made it better).
I’m really not trying to be a dick – – – but the MISFITS broke up in 1983. Fact is fact and that is that. The band that reformed in 1995, with MICHAEL GRAVES then on vocals, and from 2000 on went through a whirling dervish of vocalists for tours and gigs – – – hell, musicians in general – – – is NOT the same band that created something completely *(then, anyway) new unto itself and the growing scene of repetition it forged from what was still new. JERRY has even been on full vocal duty for quite some time now, and to be honest all of it: the songwriting, the vocals, the overblown “KISS of Punk”-type production *(trust me, look at the marketing, the similarities are there) – – – just falls flat with me on almost every conceivable level. It makes me yearn for the GRAVES-era albums. Jesus Christ, this is precisely the reason YOUR OWN BROTHER QUIT THE BAND. *(Have you heard DOYLE’s ABOMINATOR, JERRY? THAT’S how it’s done.) So you recruit your son *(JERRY OTHER). You called the MISFITS a “FAMILY BAND” on the Eric Blair Show – – – the implications I read into all this could last for hundreds of years to come *(time for a Klonopin – – – I don’t wanna think about that).
The EP begins with the now-standard EPIC quasi-metal title-track intro, then bleats out into over four minutes of standardly generic and uninteresting riffage pummeling over *(with?) JERRY’s disharmonious, predictable vocalizations. The song then “Kill-How’s” out into the next track, “A Nightmare On Elm Street” *(I detect a theme here – – – worked better with the VG/ZG single). This plods along, trying to be a standard and silly pop-punker about everyone’s favorite pedophilic 80’s slasher *(didn’t you say this was a FAMILY BAND now, JERRY? Make up your damn mind – – – doesn’t help I’ve never been a Freddy Krueger fan – – – this scraping bottom, JER). “Laser Eyes” pays tribute to one of my all-time favorite 50’s sci-fi killbots, GORT from THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. Mid-paced, this is the least repugnant song on the ep, a sound fitting in better with the previous single, perhaps. However, reminiscent of TWO SONGS from one of Lodi, NJ’s classic Horror Punk bands, MOURNING NOISE *(“My Demon Eyes,” already about the same damn film, and actually GOOD, and “Laser Lights,” again, essentially the same). It ends on another sad note with “Mad Monster Party.” Not a cover of the theme from the old claymation tv special, but a blastedly bad original. I’ve not yet met anyone of the demographic it’s “intended for” that likes – – – THIS. Is it intended for – – – anyone? It’s not Punk, it’s not Metal, it’s prefabricated, trademarked crap.
It’s just generic, at every step. It’s not hard to find, give a listen to, judge for yourself. It’s just bad songwriting, further tarnishing the already disgraced name of a band that dared to do what no one else could, in the way they did it, at a time when it was work, and continue to inspire to this day in their 76-83 incarnation. And the timing of the release – – – a mere 3 months before a GLENN DANZIG and a DOYLE are about to drop back into the mix? To me, it seems like another round of JERRY’s classic passive-aggressive merchandising skills, like he’s GOTTA make sure the band is still his. *(Hmmm, no doubt part of the “Family Plan From Lodi, New Jersey” the man is mixing with his protein drinks.) I just can’t recommend this to anyone.
RIOT FEST REUNION PERFORMANCES
Dates: September 4, 2016, Denver, CO; September 18th, Chicago, IL.
The world *(that cared, anyway – – – by and large most likely not a huge amount) dropped it’s collectively fanged and distended jaw when it was announced on May 12th of 2016 that the ORIGINAL lineup of THE MISFITS would be headlining two dates of the midwest portion of the Punk Rock circus known as the RIOT FEST. This is something that GLENN DANZIG and DOYLE have been trying to work JERRY ONLY into since 2004. Unfortunately, the stubborn, rights-hoarding and trademark-thieving bastard *(look up some of GLENN & JERRY’S court disputes, and the reasons why) has consistently declined a reunion. Apparently several approaches have been made over the years, JERRY trampling every one like some kinda mega-mite *(someone’ll get that).
This is an event that no one ever thought would happen, or could happen. The vitriol in the 90’s between these two megalomaniacs was like a flowing river of cobra venom magma. GLENN seems to have chilled over the years, but JERRY was vehemently against any kind of a reunion, the MISFITS was HIS band and that was that. *(WAH!)
Well, apparently not. Money talks, and rock-n-roll ain’t got no pension plan, and all these guys have been in the game for more than a quarter of a century. They finally managed to do it. Who did it, and how, I’m not entirely sure *(I have my theories, which I’ll keep to myself), but it’s happened. And, as explained above, I caught the very first one only hours after it had happened – – – and watching the full of the second *(and supposedly final) performance just last night, I have to say this – – – though I was not there I was completely caught the fukk up. In my head, I was there.
This could have gone down in any number of ways, many bad, all scenarios of which I’d imagined *(many quite humorously) – – – but this was a full-on Nike missile attack *(though no “Nike A Go-Go” in either set). The stage and lighting design was brilliant, the stage itself guarded on either side by 25’ tall leering jack-o-lanterns *(designed from the images on the original HALLOWEEN 7” cover), replete with green and orange eyes that flashed along with everything else in this seizure-warning of a show *(and I say that as a good thing). The stage also had a giant screen above the drums, playing odd visuals that accompany a new set of images to for every song. They played 25 songs at the first show, a couple more at the second, and it consisted of mostly the same setlist, to which I was surprised at some of their choices, as well as some of their deletions.
DAVE LOMBARDO *(SLAYER, GRIP, INC., etc.) absolutely murders the drums, while additional guitarist ACEY SPADE *(of JOAN JETT’S BLACKHEARTS) just kind of stands in the shadows, keeping the rhythm guitar tight as DOYLE does his “Frankenstein Stomp” thing, relentlessly beating his guitar throughout the show whilst creepy-crawling the stage. JERRY was JERRY, running around riling up the crowd *(many of which seemed like they did not know, understand, or appreciate just what they were bearing witness to). And GLENN – – – his voice was shot halfway through the set of the first performance, gone by the end of the second, a terrible wheeze in his breaths – – – forgivable, as these guys are in their 50’s and 60’s. However, the power and fury *(as well as the orchestra, too – – – SOMEONE will get that) was there, it was frantic, fun – – – as I watched through the static age of my computer, especially the first performance, I kind of welled up a little. I never thought I’d see this. *(I am thoroughly aware an after the fact armchair review of a live performance is lame, but fukk it – – – as this ties into my yearly October “Horror Rock Legacy” Series.)
As far as to how well they got along on stage – – – the first show was spontaneous *(in its way) and really unique, it seemed all egos had been put aside. The second performance I began to notice power-struggles with vocals between GLENN & JERRY *(I’ve also considered that JERRY was helping GLENN due to the vocals issue – – – he’s done enough shitty things as far as the MISFITS go, I’d like to think this was a case of “friendly redemption” – – – most likely not). They also didn’t interact as much with each other during the second performance, and exited the stage on opposite sides *(showmanship or grudge – – – you decide).
All in all, it would have been a fascinating thing to attend, to behold, and if this damn screen is as close as I’m going to get to it, than so be it. However, I will say this: they would be absolute fools not to follow this up with a full-on tour. I know these two performances came out of what initially started out as another round in court, but now would be high-time to do it. JERRY has claimed that both DOYLE and GLENN would like to perhaps do another MISFITS album, continue this further, but counters with *(in the same sentence, mind you) the HIS MISFITS are recording a new album, DOYLE is, DANZIG is – – – so their all on tight schedules to be sure. But this was one of the most spontaneous events in any kind of memorable recent Punk history or culture since the passing of LEMMY and BOWIE. Is new material a good idea? With DANZIG & DOYLE in the fold, I’d be curious – – – could be great, could be an absolute disaster – – – same stakes involved with these performances. On a sidenote, they performed “Who Killed Marilyn?” for the first time ever, and killed it at that.
I think the performers themselves need time to process this event, and if something of the sort will ever happen again, or grow into something bigger, the multiple outcomes possible, or just be laid back to rest for JERRY to reshape in his own image? Perhaps this was our Last Caress.
Invariably there will be a cd or dvd released of this *(you can see it being filmed throughout). It will sell. If you can dig the footage up and are even vaguely curious, it’s worth the watch. If you’re 13 and just getting into the MISFITS but think they started in 1995, you NEED to see this and learn your ass some history. Highly recommended.
Vincent Daemon, writer, editor, musician, photgrapher, film/music buff and historian, and rabblerouser, can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/vincent.daemon.1 as well as his spontaneously updated blog of writing news and nonsense THE WRITINGS OF A DEPRAVED MIND http://vincentdaemon.blogspot.com/Some of his music can be painfully experienced at http://www.reverbnation.com/vincentdaemonsageofdesire3 His email is email@example.com