Vandals: Live at the House of Blues: DVD

Back in the early 1980s, a small, relatively obscure South Bay punk band called the Vandals developed a word-of-mouth reputation by trashing the houses of parties they played. Not long after that, they released an amusing EP of silly tunes poking fun at nearly everything in reach, from dropping LSD at Disneyland to friends-turned-legends to punk’s political stances. One of those tunes, parodying the punks vs. urban cowboy wars then raging at Costa Mesa’s Cuckoo’s Nest, became a regional hit and earned the band their fifteen minutes of fame. After their first full-length earned them another hit, they summarily sacked their lead singer and brought in another less flamboyant front man to fill his shoes. Fast forward to 2004, wherein the Vandals have effectively laid waste to the laws of physics and have upset the space/time continuum by somehow managing to increase their fan base by producing suckier and suckier music. The only member left from the original band is the drummer (who is now the bass player), the band has jumped from one subgenre to the next over the years, first chasing cowpunk until they realized there was no money to be found at that well, and now raking in the dough as a cheap NOFX knockoff. Presented here is what one assumes to be a recent performance at the House of Blues, wherein the band crank out tune after tune of bland, faceless, frat boy rock to the assembled poseurs and Avril Lavigne clones looking to earn some punk cred at school by seeing a “real” punk band. The only “oldie” showcased here is a thorough butchering of the Simpletones’ “I Have a Date,” which leads one to think that it might just be a good thing that Snickers is dead, because someone no doubt deserves a good smack down for what is done to that tune. To put things more succinctly, the Vandals are living proof that you should never, under any circumstances, let the drummer call the shots. As if the DVD wasn’t punishment enough, included is a bonus CD of the performance with which you can soil your stereo just as badly as you did your DVD player. It also means you get two targets for your next skeet shooting session, which is about the only decent thing one can do with such utter wastes of plastic. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.kungfurecords.com)