Last Night: The Adolescents at The Loft
December 29, 2010
Better than: Staying home and watching Sid and Nancy.
A surprisingly large collection of Dallas' unwashed and unwanted gathered together at The Loft last night to witness a fine triple-bill of old-school punk rock.
Headlining was The Adolescents, a semi-legendary hardcore outfit from Los Angeles. Formed in the early '80s, the music of The Adolescents was always fairly standard issue punk rock -- three chords and a lot of shouted choruses. What set the band apart was an energetic, teenage snottiness that resonated with a lot of disaffected youth.
Amazingly, there seems to be just as many of these wayward souls these days as there were in the '80s.
But, first, there were a couple of opening bands to deal with.
Hailing from Garland (of all places) was The Scandals, a motley quartet fronted by one Jose Scandal. With his multi-colored, spiked hairdo, Jose led the band through a spirited 30-minute set that featured such sing-along favorites as "40 Oz. Friday" and "I Hate Society." Although The Scandals' style is pretty much generic thrash, the band has energy and attitude to spare. At times, they seemed like a Minor Threat tribute band.
Back in the day, bands like this were railing against Reagan. Now, it's mostly clichés about urban blight. But The Scandals did throw in enough tasty metal riffs (care of a guitarist called Dirty Harry) to distinguish itself enough to warrant a second viewing.
Next up was Austin's Lower Class Brats, a foursome of talented and tattooed anglophiles whose music recalled such legendary British Oi bands as The Exploited and GBH. The band's Clockwork Orange chic is pretty dated, but that didn't stop them from plowing through hardcore nuggets like "Go Insane" and "Who Do They Save?," the latter being a spot-on critique of religious proselytizing.
More impressive was the fact that so many in the crowd knew the words to almost every song performed by Lower Class Brats. Punks both young and old rushed the stage for their chance to yell out choruses and injure anyone who got in their way. Singer Bones DeLarge (ha!) spurred on the crowd as the entire scene came to resemble something out of The Sex Pistols film The Great Rock and Roll Swindle.
Then, when it was time for The Adolescents to come on, the crowd gathered tightly around the stage. When singer Tony Cadena (aka Tony Montana) sang the first few words of "No Way," the mosh pit ignited with a fury that was almost frightening.
Indeed, Cadena had to chastise the audience a couple of times about taking it easy on the females in attendance. With one such quivering lass on stage, Montana implored the larger fellows in the pit to take pity on the smaller folk. But when the band launched into "Self Destruct," the young lady promptly dove off the stage, happy to be back in the fray.
Songs such as "Serf City," "OC Confidential" and "Amoeba" got the best response as The Adolescents stuck with material from its earliest releases.
For guys who are all around 50 years old, all of The Adolescents acquitted themselves quite well.
Special kudos to bassist Steve Soto, who especially shined on "Wrecking Crew" and "Kids of the Black Hole."
All in all, it was an invigorating night of loud and ugly music -- or exactly the kind of thing you come to expect from punk when it is played with spirit and resolute defiance.
Personal Bias: Although I've always been more partial to other California punk acts such as Black Flag, Fear and the Dead Kennedys, The Adolescents' performance made me reevaluate its entire catalog. Needless to say, I've been listening to the band's 1981 self-titled debut ever since I got home.
Random Note: I saw at least three guys wearing the exact same Black Flag t-shirt. I wanted to ask them if they called each other before the show to coordinate outfits.
By The Way: Punk's not dead.