December 20, 2010 | 2:18pm
December 18th, 2010
House of Blues Anaheim
Only a band as beloved and stellar as The Vandals
can throw an annual Christmas formal in support of their 1996 album Oi to the World!
. The pouring rain didn't keep the punks away; the House of Blues in Anaheim
was absolutely packed. What better way to dry off than to circle pit to your favorite Christmas-themed Vandals songs? Decked out in tuxedo shirts to match the "formal dress code," the group immediately got the audience into the spirit.
Guitarist Warren Fitzgerald got style points for finding an orange tuxedo shirt to match his beanie and Fender Mustang guitar. Regular drummer Josh Freese was absent from the show, but Bad Religion's
drummer Brooks Wackerman filled in admirably behind the kit. Dave Quackenbush would later quip that they had the better Freese brother when he introduced Green Day
touring group member Jason Freese on keyboards.
"Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies" soon gave way to "A Gun For Christmas," and I spotted someone in the pit with a Santa cap. Joe Escalante methodically plucked away at his bass with a broad grin laughing at the antics of Quackenbush. "Thanx For Nothing" and "Nothing's Going To Ruin My Holiday" kept the thrashers spinning with glee. Quackenbush warned the kids in the audience to put on their earmuffs before launching into "Christmas Time for My Penis."
Escalante would step up to the microphone to sing the traditional "Here I Am Lord," which was livened up with ska influence. Emerging from the shadows, Adrian Young from No Doubt
jumped behind the drum kit for "Grandpa's Last Xmas". Young also occasionally fills in on drums when Freese is unable to play. Fitzgerald would later take center stage for a searing one note guitar solo for "It's A Fact" while playing between his legs.
During "Take It Back," Quackenbush was so impressed with Fitzgerald's guitar solo that he placed the microphone directly over the pickup to capture all the sonic magic. Quackenbush even asked the crowd to throw out jazz hands during "People That Are Going To Hell". How punk is that? "I've Got An Ape Drape" had Quackenbush improvise the lyrics to give the opening band Assorted Jelly Beans a shout out.
Personal Bias: This was my third Vandals Christmas formal in a row.
Crowd: Festive punk rockers of all ages crowd surfed and moshed together in harmony.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Shut Up!" was shouted by Fitzgerald in order to rile the crowd up.
Random Notebook Dump: It was only fitting that I saw Tom Dumont and Adrian Young of No Doubt after seeing Tony Kanal at Roger Waters. This means I'm due for a Gwen Stefani sighting soon.