While masses of music fans were in the desert in Indio celebrating the great Coachella Music and Arts Festival last night, several hundred diehard punk/thrash metal/crossover fans invaded the Observatory in Santa Ana, for an all day event that started at 2 p.m., with a Black Market Swap meet, featuring tons of and vinyl records. DJ sets were provided by DJ Big Mike of Poor Kids Radio and Special guest DJ MissBliss. This show also felt like a detour since they'd just been tapped to co-headline the controversial festival Punk Picnic that was supposed to happen last weekend but was cancelled at the last minute.
Tons of punk/local bands played the Observatory, including The Co-Dependents, The Molochs, Walking Wrecks, and Hazardous Terror, both on the main stage and the Constellation Room. But, by 7:00 p.m. the Observatory was roaming with mohawked, spike-headed punks in leather jackets, longhairs, tons of pretty ladies, and lots of denim. Everywhere you looked people proudly wore shirts, hats, bandanas, patches, jackets and even tattoos featuring the universal logo of the band everyone came to see, D.R.I (Dirty Rotten Imbeciles). The logo is the familiar stick figure in a skanking pose, which has been sinuous with he mosh pit/slam dancing.
D.R.I. might have gone on after midnight, causing many kids to break curfew, but that didn't stop the rabid maniacal thrashers, metal heads, skins and punks from circle pitting from the first song to the last. The band played songs from 30-year career, spanning eight studio albums. Hits and fan favorites included 'Acid Bath,' "I'd rather be Sleeping," "Suit and Tie Guy," "Syringes in the Sand Box," "Thrashard" and a plethora of old and new D.R.I songs about violence, war, government oppression and corruption.
The four-piece band, featuring original members Spike Cassidy on guitar and singer Kurt Brecht, as well as bassist Harald Oimoen and drummer Rob Rampy, only had a simple backdrop of their logo, and nothing else, this was bone fide, stripped down crossover--the perfect combo of thrash, hardcore punk and metal. It's a perfect sound for fans of Motorhead, Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies and the mighty Slayer. Two bands with which D.R.I is about to share the stage with: the band is opening a string of dates with Suicidal Tendencies later this month, and is scheduled to open for Slayer in Europe at several prominent festivals. "Playing with Suicidal is a dream for us," singer Kurt Brecht. "But what's up with Slayer, losing some of the original members?"
D.R.I. might have gone on after midnight, causing many kids to break curfew, but that didn't stop the rabid maniacal thrashers, metal heads, skins and from circle pitting from the first song to the last. The Observatory was not packed to the brim, but there were enough to keep the energy going till after 1 a.m. Stage divers, crowd surfers and moshers saw how a circle pit was done by a band that was notoriously known (and still is) for violent, intense slam pits at shows. After half-an-hour, the crowd and band were just warmed up. "Don't worry, we got 32 more songs for you guys!" singer Kurt yelled to crowd, briefly between songs.
D.R.I. is simply a band that has been imitated but never replicated, probably one of the most influential bands to emerge from the punk/metal/cross over scene, they practically created, especially with the popularity of such bands as Municipal Waste, and the thrash revival. Truly an inspiring, intense band, proving that extreme music be it punk, thrash metal or punk or any variation can act as a fountain of youth.
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The Crowd: Fans ranging in age from early teens to elderly. A bald, shirtless, grey-haired tattooed old timer wearing glasses was actually slamming away with dudes young enough to be his kids (or even grandkids). D.R.I is known to pack shows full of skinheads, metal fans, thrashers, and punks, which always ensures action in the pit. This show also brought in many pretty punk rock ladies, decked out in dyed hair, Rammones tank tops, spiked belts and lots of combat boots.
Overheard in the Crowd: A group of young longhaired thrashers in Municipal Waste and Exodus t-shirts, all drinking tall cans of malt liquor in the corner of the parking lot. A middle aged shorter haired metal head, wearing an Overkill shirt, said out loud, DRI is where it's! The dude from the band, the guitarist almost died, he had cancer, but he's still here thrashing away, like they were 25 years ago. It's a beautiful thing!"
Interesting Fact: Spike Cassidy, founding member of thrash/hardcore/crossover Kings, D.R.I, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2006. The cancer was treated while the band took a hiatus, and he went into remission. But then it reared its ugly head again in 2011-12,when he had another cancerous polyp removed from his colon, and had to have part of his large intestine removed. Currently, Cassidy is in good health, thanks in big part to the music of D.R.I.