The Misfits are one of the most important punk bands of all time, there's no denying that. Unfortunately, the current version of the group doesn't exactly represent the rock royalty they truly should be remembered as.
As much as Jerry Only wants to keep the Misfits' magic alive, the band just isn't the same as it was in the 20th century. It's never easy to keep the same feel of a group together when only one original member remains (unless the band was more of a one-man show from the beginning, like Smashing Pumpkins or Social Distortion), and it might just be time to let this one go.
Everything about the 2015 incarnation of the Misfits is trying too hard. Jerry Only is trying too hard to play bass, replace Glenn Danzig on lead vocals, and entertain the entire crowd on behalf of the band at the same time. The makeup and general aesthetic of the band's other two members (including Jerry Only's son on guitar and backing vocals) is trying too hard to look like the Misfits of old. The attractive all-female opening band the She Demons was trying too hard to get the audience going (and seemed like a calculated move to appeal to the almost-entirely male audience). Even Jerry Only's iconic devilock is trying too hard to fight his ever-receding hairline.
Before the three-piece (because who needs a second guitarist these days?) kicked off the Static Age album, the skull-clad fans were already losing their minds as Jerry Only and crew followed their welcoming skeletal mascot on to the stage. As the band immediately blasted through 'Static Age,' 'TV Casualty' and 'Some Kinda Hate,' it was immediately noticeable that while the songs were still technically the same, something was missing.
Between the makeup and the full spiked vest/kneepads attire, Jerry Only looks more like an aging professional wrestler than a punk legend. Add in his high energy first pumps, enjoyment of the spotlight and pandering to his fans, and it was clear that it was more "an evening with Jerry Only" covering Misfits songs than an actual Misfits concert.
While it was great to hear classics like "We are 138," "Teenagers from Mars" and "Bullet" live, it just doesn't sound like the Misfits without Danzig's voice, even when they busted out "Horror Business" at the end of the entire Static Age album before taking a break to come back and play a bunch of tracks from American Psycho.
Honestly, if Jerry Only wants to keep the Misfits going, he should pick up a nameless Danzig impersonator (maybe wearing full skull makeup, that would be kind of fitting and awesome). He could still do all of the talking, get all of the love, and sing all of the singalong choruses (which comprise roughly one-third of Misfits songs), but it'd make the whole thing sound and feel a lot better.
The best surprise of the night came when the band resumed playing after their break (following Static Age and 'Horror Business') and started things off with "Who Killed Marilyn?" before launching into American Psycho classics like the title track, "Speak of the Devil," "Walk Among Us," and even the album's hidden track "Hell Night."
Obviously, Misfits fans will want to go to all three nights of performances (Friday night is Walk Among Us and Saturday brings Earth A.D.) and will likely enjoy hearing and seeing what remains of one of their favorite bands. I'm sure they'll even tell you that the band sounded/looked as good as ever and some people just don't appreciate good punk music (or something far more abrasive/vulgar than that).
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For those of us who like the Misfits of days past and want to keep the idea that Walk Among Us (and/or Static Age) is one of the greatest punk albums in history, we all might be better off staying home and listening to the records themselves. Whether you were alive for it or not, you can still think back on the days before the Misfits really just became a logo for a lifestyle.
Also, for a band with so many "diehard" fans, where the hell are all of the devilocks? I saw one in the crowd the whole night, and it was mostly hidden beneath a hoodie. Get it together, high school punk rock kids.