Last Night: Circle Jerks, Hit Me Back at the Glass House

Review by Waleed Rashidi

Circle Jerks, Hit Me Back at the Glass House, Pomona Friday, January 25, 2008

Better than: Spending all night watching VH1 Classic — though hey, that's a pretty close second right there.

Download: "Deny Everything."

Sometimes you just gotta wonder — where's the real show happening? Some bands are so attention-engrossing, you can't believe that you're simultaneously sharing that seemingly personal experience with a few thousand others. Other acts are such a coma-inducing snooze, all you can do to entertain yourself is to engage in the world's lengthiest round of people watching, scoping the cast of characters in the audience.

At Friday's Circle Jerks show at the Glass House, we got that comfy, happy medium. There was a sizable mosh pit, swirling with the ferocity of a fast food bathroom shitter flushing every last morsel of soup poop out of its bowl, which had placed its spiky-topped brethren in the center of the well-traveled floor. And there was also the action of the legendary Keith Morris and company, which was good — perhaps even awesome at times — ceaselessly demanding at least one eye cocked towards the stage.

Contrary to our previous Glass House excursion earlier this week (read our assessment of the Locust/Poison The Well gig in an earlier posting), tonight's event was fairly filled to the brim — and we could tell the minute we rolled up to the venue. The security line alone took a serious ten minutes to finally get (thoroughly) frisked, with personnel screaming, pleading and even invoking the "for crying out loud" expression, which was sewn to the heavily recurring phrase "empty out EVERYTHING from ALL of your pockets." Ah, punks just don't listen, do they?

Direct support for the Circle Jerks was South Central's Hit Me Back. Musically average, but basted to a stylistic delicacy, the foursome cobbled together a fiercely brief thrashy punk set — think DRI meets early Black Flag meets the primitive Dischord material — and we're talkin' about twenty minutes, tops. That's just enough to warm the tympanic membranes, and yet not too long to incite an impromptu ducking session of obliterated Chuck Taylors and half-filled water bottles. The vocalist made a remark about the act's lack of professionalism, but no one gave a rat's ass — besides, who in the hell ever fuses the terms "street punk" and "professional" in the same sentence, anyways?

Morris made his first stage appearance on his knees, taping the set lists to the floor (now there's a poster child for the D.I.Y. movement). After said lists were affixed, the Jerks unceremoniously launched their set, slamming through a potent collection of tracks spanning the band's three-decade career, presented in heaping portions. Though it wasn't Morris' most high-energy gig, he certainly wasn't off the mark (much of this had been discussed in this week's OC Weekly feature), closely aided and abetted by guitarist Greg Hetson (also of Bad Religion fame), who bounced across the stage with the nervous activity of a fourth-grader whose Ritalin prescription expired last month. Drummer Kevin Fitzgerald (currently drummer for 400 Blows as well) was absolutely brilliant, never missing a mark throughout the blurring tempos of the Jerks' frenetic material. And yes, the hour-long performance did include favorites "Wild In The Streets," "Deny Everything," and even "Repo Man" soundtrack contribution "Coup D'Etat."

Throughout it all, the punks slam danced their spikes off, yours truly was elbowed on numerous occasions and a momentous old-school experience was shared by all. Now, what more could we really ask for?

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: Security handed me a free bottle of water, so I stuck around the front longer than I normally would have.

Random Detail: Just gotta love the gaggle of Lexus SUVs parked outside the venue, with semi-worried parents behind the wheel, engines idling, eagerly waiting for their sons and daughters to return to the plush leather-lined backseat, unscathed and ready for bedtime.

By the way: Old school punk (with crusty patch kids) is very alive and doing very well in modern-day suburbia, my friends.


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