Fiend Fest: The Misfits, The Damned, Agnostic Front, The Dickies, Balzac, D.I.: Live at the Grove, Anaheim CA, 07/27/03 By Donofthedead

Sep 03, 2003

All photos by Katz

I went out two nights in a row. That is an all-time record for me. I don't usually see two shows in three month's time, nor do I venture out of LA County to see shows anymore. But I made the trek to Orange County to see this show and out to Ventura County the night before. I brought my brother along again to handle photo duties.

Things were a lot smoother tonight than the previous night. I only had to wait fifteen minutes for the guest lists to arrive. But there had to be a glitch. The glitch was no photo pass. Luckily, I had met the Balzac entourage the night before and they were conveniently nearby at the back of the venue. They introduced me to the tour manager and a photo pass was issued. I packed my brother up with photo equipment and sent him into the venue before me.

The Grove is a pretty nice venue; a venue you would never expect to hold punk shows twenty years ago. It felt weird. I had the same feeling walking into the Staples Center to see a Laker game. Sterile and modern. There are TV monitors everywhere. I'm pretty sure I saw some in the outside lobby. The inside lobby, where the bar and merch was set up, had monitors. Once inside the hall, there were two big screens on each side of the stage. Now how convenient is that? I, for one, don't like being smashed at the front anymore. My back can't handle the stress of a slam pit or just being bumped around. I'm also not the tallest person in the world and I always either get someone that is tall in front of me or they have big hair. So when my view got obstructed, I sometimes watched the screens. The only thing missing was chairs. I could have used a chair that night. My brother with the photo pass got to be in the VIP section, which was at the very front of the stage. The general crowd was pulled back from the stage about fifteen to twenty feet. I felt a little disconnected.

D.I. was the opener and it was like a homecoming to them on this tour. Hailing from OC, they had the hometown crowd cheering for them. The only drawback was they were the opening band and their set lasted probably twenty minutes. Their set was the same as the night before, but more energized due to better sound and audience reaction. As before, highlights for me were hearing "Guns," "Johnny's Got a Problem," "Richard Hung Himself," and the Rikk Agnew song, "OC Life."

I was told the night before by Balzac that they were changing their set for each night. That they did. Their set started with a recorded intro this time and was a good build up for them to walk up on stage. I stood near the front in the general population section with a few people that I knew and I called the Fiendish Club LA section, since they were the only ones there in the band's shirts and gear. I'm really bad with knowing the titles to their songs, but I'm pretty positive they opened their set with "Day the Earth Caught Fire," which the Misfits cover on their split CD together. I recognized the songs and can't lie that I don't remember what they played. One song that I wanted to hear and they didn't play both nights was "Isolation from No. 13." That is the first song that I heard from this band and have been a fan since. Much better acoustics made for a great sounding set this time around. I can't wait until they return to these shores to promote their upcoming US release on Misfits Records. A thirty-minute set did them no justice.

Agnostic Front didn't play the night before for some reason, but they jumped back on the tour. There wasn't a large contingent of skinheads as I had expected but I did see a lot of the white power types, though. I actually got bumped by a few and got the stare down. I stayed passive and walked away from them when I got in contact. I was excited to see Agnostic Front again, having seen them recently when they toured with TSOL and the Casualties. They put on a great show, but their brand of East Coast HC sounded out of context with the other bands on the bill. The audience showed much appreciation by forming a large mosh pit and singing along to songs like "Gotta Go."

I was a little disappointed by the Dickies' set. It was exactly the same as the set the night before. All the in-between song banter was the same, too. It felt a little too much like they were going through the motions. They have such a large catalog of songs to not change it around a little and I still think that they should have played more than one song off of their latest album if they are still promoting it.

The Damned is a band that I am really starting to appreciate. Seeing them play their set a second time made me focus more on their songs. I also liked that the set was a little varied and seemed longer. Dave Vanian was still in fine form and belted the songs out like a seasoned crooner. Captain Sensible was made for the Damned. His guitar work was incredible and after all these years you could tell that he still enjoyed playing those songs. I am such a big Patricia Morrison fan now. I spent 50% of the time watching her play bass. It's night and day how much she has progressed as a bass player starting with the Bags to seeing her now. The smartest thing the Damned did was getting Pinch from the English Dogs to drum for them when they needed a drummer. I believe he's much more talented and plays harder than many of the band's previous drummers. A fantastic set.

The Misfits closed the night and I was done right then and there once Jerry Only walked on stage. The crowd roared and introductions to Dez Cadena and Marky Ramone followed. I think the Misfits bring too much amplification with them when they play. The night before, they sounded like mud. This night was no better. Even the better PA and acoustics could not help them. I stood way in the back and all I could hear was bass, snare drum, and faint vocals. They ran through the Misfits, Black Flag and Ramones songs and somewhere in between they were playing their '50s covers off their new CD Project 1950. It sure wasn't like seeing the band in 1982.

I went outside to hang out with the Balzac entourage and practice my Japanese. I didn't have the energy to sit through the Misfits again. My feet were aching from standing for two straight nights. The Balzac guys are a great group of people. I hope they come through again soon. I can handle a big bill like this once a year, but don't ever expect me at a Warped Tour.