Legendary frontman Philip Anselmo brought a host of hooligans through Los Angeles on the aptly named ‘punk rock, but kinda not tour’ this weekend. Here’s five reasons why we still have a hangover…
LA Traffic Sucks
It would have been nice to check out Australia’s King Parrot, by all accounts more Poison Idea than Poison Idea, but instead the cab moves another foot and the fare goes up another dollar. Santa Cruz punks B’last are into their set by the time we’ve been searched and picked up tickets, then ID checked and wrist-banded. Most of the audience is in the lobby, drinking heavily, perhaps no more than a hundred or so people actually watching the band. Which is rather baffling considering there are two more bars inside, but it gives us the opportunity to bag a sweet spot right near the mixing desk.
The Sound Sucks
Okay, maybe not by the mixing desk, it sounds horrendous, like Bl’ast are playing nextdoor! And, with Nick Oliveri on bass and former QOTSA band-mate Joey Castillo on drums, it should sound like Black Flag playing in a thunderstorm! Frontman Clifford Dinsmore is clearly raging up there, too, but it’s near impossible to make out a word he’s saying. The trouble is, the whole building sounds like that! There is no sweet spot, no right place to stand, the sound just plain sucks everywhere, which explains why the lobby is so crowded. Oh well, back to the bar.
The Wiltern Sucks
It long been known that this venue is not conducive to rock shows, to the point where you really have to commit to going to a show. At $14 for a Jack and Coke you have to commit to drinking, too, but Orange Goblin are always been seen with a beverage or two. Unfortunately the band are in a no-win situation tonight: having played LA enough to build up a solid following, they could easily pull as many people as are watching them tonight, pack a smaller club and sound great. Instead, the volume and vocals go up a little, but the quality remains dreadful. “Some you win, some you lose,” sings frontman Ben Ward. Sadly, we’ll take this one as a loss.
The Sound Still Sucks
Seriously, we’re back by the mixing desk for Down, and opening with the colossal Lysergik Funeral Procession they should be shaking the very foundations of the building. Instead, there’s more mud. And while, granted, it’s slightly louder mud, the likes of Lifer and Hail The Leaf don’t fare any better. The volume creeps up throughout the set, like an old man climbing a long flight of stairs, but it’s not until an encore of Stone The Crow and the inevitable classic Bury Me In Smoke that it’s anywhere near dialled in. And, even then, earplugs ($2) are far from necessary.
This Tour Rules!
And yet, despite, or perhaps in part because of all this, tonight is a special occasion. The place fills up to a decent attendance for Down, and although woefully undersold, it is filled with the kind of hardcore fans who know every word, and will sing-along throughout, their enthusiasm for Losing All easily outdoing the PA. No-one cares that Anselmo is drunk enough to cover David Essex’s Rock On twice! It’s punk rock, but kinda not. And, in the old school way, it shows the same commitment as the audience. Tomorrow will suck, but it’s all or nothing tonight. In a better venue we’d have witnessed the perfect show.