This pic is actually from last Wednesday's Misfits show in San Diego (via Wikipedia). So pretend this is happening in Anaheim, and you have a pretty good idea of what it looked like.
Last Night: The Misfits, D.I., Invisible Humans at the House of Blues, Anaheim, Nov. 23, 2008.
Better Than: Jerry Only's circa 1999 ill-conceived foray into professional wrestling.
Shirtless Dude Count: I only spotted 4, but I wasn't able to get all that close to the stage, so that number likely should be higher.
There was a time and a place where going to a Misfits show would be a pretty cool thing to do. That time is not in the year 2008. That place is definitely not Downtown Disneyland.
But really, what does it matter? The intensely devoted sold-out crowd at the House of Blues Sunday night certainly wasn't concerned about being cool as they dutifully sang along to every song–whether crowded up front or sitting along the edges–from “Hybrid Moments” to “Attitude” to “Teenagers From Mars.”
Sure, all those songs, as good as they are, are three decades old at this point, well older than many of the fans in attendance. And they were all written and originally sung by Misfits founder Glenn Danzig, who broke up the band in 1983. And they're now sung by bassist Jerry Only, effectively making this version–extant since a 1995 court settlement granted Only and since-departed guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein the right to perform under the Misfits name–a really successful Misfits cover band. It's sort of the punk rock equivalent of those '50s and '60s R&B groups that keep touring casinos even though they might not have any original members at all. They did actual covers, too: “Six Pack” and “Rise Above” by Black Flag (current guitarist Dez Cadena and drummer Robo both were members of that band).
Yes, we could point out how Only's voice (he took over as lead singer in 2000 after the departure of Michale Graves) is no match for Danzig's distinct, Elvis Presley/Jim Morrison-esque register; the very thing that made the original Misfits stand out from the rest of the punk pack. Or someone could joke about how Disneyland is actually the perfect place for the Misfits to play, given how the band, like a spookier KISS, basically exists only as prop to sell merchandise–just check out a Hot Topic, people are still rockin' that skull logo t-shirt. (It's practically de rigueur for annoyingly misguided high schoolers.)
If desired, one could rumuniate on the hilarious imagery of a crowd of Misfits fans, alternately white trashy and gothy, crowded around the second floor patio bar while Build-a-Bear Workshop employees close up shop just a few yards away. Or giggle at the sheer number of skulls present on their stage set-up, even cluttering up mic stands. Or wonder about how long they'll keep the “30th anniversary: 1977-2007” backdrop around. Heck, if someone wanted to get really nasty, they could riff on Only's insistence on sticking with that devilock, and how it's practically the only hair left on his head at this point.
But, ultimately, the joke would be on us. Because however objectively lame the show might have been, it delivered entirely on its stated objective: entertaining the group of die-hard fans there that night. It's a weird phenomenon–you'd think all those personnel changes would have alienated the older fans, and you wonder how these younger fans keep finding them. And the 70-minute set, which crammed in a lot of tunes (Misfits songs are generally really song), really did please these people, whoever they are, all the way up to set-closer, “Die, Die My Darling.” Yes, another song by Glenn Danzig.
And they probably sold plenty of merchandise, too–the table boasted about a half-dozen variants of those skull shirts. So no matter what jokes you might want to make, Jerry Only's probably ending the night sleeping on a huge pile of cash thanks to Misfits-branded medicated lip balm, while I'll be in my tiny apartment watching “Desperate Housewives” on my DVR until I fall asleep.
Well played, Misfits.
Personal Bias: When I ordered a Perrier, I was about 20% sure I was going to get beaten up, but I was not. Phew!
Random Detail: The House of Blues was selling a “bucket” of “tasty Tater Tots” for $2. I didn't see too many takers. Misfits fans are smarter than you think.
By The Way: Fullerton's D.I. preceded the Misfits, with chatty lead singer Casey Royer complaining about Fox's “The OC” (it's been off the air for more than two years now! get over it!) and telling the crowd not to do heroin. Invisible Humans, not to be confused with charity Invisible Children, opened.