Charismatics, The, Johnny Deformed, Civilian Outbreak (21-Guns), Zack The Rookie: Live at The Lion’s De, Longview, Texax, April 6, 2002 By Kristen K

The Lion’s Den is, in actuality, a VFW Post of sorts where the juvenile delinquent boys in 21-Guns/Civilian Outbreak occasionally host loud’n’lively punk festivals showcasing regional bands from the East Texas/West Louisiana area. On this particular unseasonably cool spring night, two of the bands hailed from Shreveport, two from Longview, and two from the vast concrete metroplex of Dallas/Arlington/Ft. Worth. I, as usual, hailed from a sloppy, slobbering state of blurry-eyed, rosy-cheeked inebriation… nothing a few more cold, frothy brews couldn’t cure, of course!

If I recollect correctly, the first three bands (Cali 45, Ono!Ninjas, and Zack The Rookie) all rowdily blasted a rip-roarin’ rapid-fire succession of pop-punk cacophony at its most fiery and intense. I was unfortunately unable to divert every bit of my drunkenly disoriented attention to their sonically spectacular sets due to the fact I was manning a hastily constructed merchandise table where I steadily sold several copies of the latest issue of Razorcake as well as numerous punk-band t-shirts. Business was all-at-once and swift, so I was soon able to resume my haphazardly focused concentration towards the stage and the thunderously frenzied sounds emanating from it.

Civilian Outbreak raucously scorched through their poppy, punky, skull-rattling set with the utmost of unbridled energy. These brash young whippersnappers were formerly known as 21-Guns, but a geriatric group of old-fart, cock-rocker has-beens from England (who just happen to be ex-members of Thin Lizzy who now assume the name 21 Guns) recently threatened my teen-aged Texan pals with a frivolous lawsuit if they didn’t cease and desist using the 21-Guns moniker. Because of the cowardly fascistic tendencies of a talentless crew of boring, long-forgotten Jurassic rock stars, 21-Guns are now known as Civilian Outbreak, but they still frenetically kick out the jams with all the volume and fury of an F5 tornado.

Johnny Deformed violently hit the stage like an uncontrollable fit of volcanic rage. They were loud, obnoxious, unruly, and brutal. At first, the young and eager crowd of onlookers seemed slightly intimidated and taken aback by the crusty sonic belligerence of Johnny Deformed, but the entire room soon erupted into a crazed bundle of slammin’, moshin’ euphoria. Damn, I could’ve sworn that I witnessed several spines bein’ snapped in half during this playful, body-mangling spectacle!

At long last, The Charismatics flamed forth with a roaring rush of pop-punk giddiness that packed one helluva snotty snarl. They energetically unleashed a dazzling, lively array of melodious mayhem and illustrious, fever-pitched noise noggery. Their ear-tickling set of fast-paced originals also included a rousing rendition of the Ramones’ “I Wanna Live” which damn near blew the roof in half and crumbled the walls to the ground. The Charismatics melodically melted all of our ears en masse, and it was certainly a stellar feeling, to say the least!

What an inspirational and spirited show. The bands gave 110% and so did the audience… euphorically playing off each other’s excitement and fervent love of the music. As I slowly ambled outta The Lion’s Den after the final chord buzzed from the amps, I suddenly realized that I was obviously by far the oldest person in the crowd. I looked around at the wide-eyed cherubic faces of the mostly youthful, teen-aged attendees, and then it dawned on me: this young and giddy generation is eagerly carrying the inextinguishable punkrock torch to newer heights. I went home exhausted, but proud…