This year’s most ambitious addition to the ever-expanding sub-species of all-star heavy metal collaborations (omnes stellae cooperationis gravis metallum) has been Teenage Time Killers, that hydra-headed collective of metal and punk icons founded by Corrosion Of Conformity drummer Reed Mullin and My Ruin guitarist Mick Murphy to pay tribute to their enduring love of old-school punk, 80s hardcore and all things underground.
In both scale and nominal stature, TTK audaciously exceeded the heights reached by any previous heavy metal supergroup, bested in numbers only by generational flashpoints like Live Aid or USA For Africa. A studio-clogging 20 different punk and metal frontmen, including Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe, Clutch’s Neil Fallon, Jello Biafra (ex-Dead Kennedys), Lee Ving (Fear) and Corey Taylor (Slipknot, Stone Sour), as well as a legion of battle-hardened road dogs like Dave Grohl (showing off his bass-playing skills) and Matt Skiba (Blink-182, Alkaline Trio) collaborated on TTK’s cheekily-titled debut, Greatest Hits, Vol. 1. Most, but not all of the original collaborators are scheduled to perform tonight, lending a rarified air to the show; after all, coordinating the schedules of more than 30 touring musicians and their support crews to be in the same city long enough to rehearse and play a one-off gig makes herding cats sound logical and effortless.
After a Dead Kennedys/Sex Pistols mix warms up the house, a fresh-faced Trenton Rogers (Chaotic Justice) charges out and leads the band through TTK’s playfully snotty eponymous theme song. He gets high marks for effort, but he’s too youthful and doe-eyed to credibly pull off a song like Fuck Authority and we can’t help but think that if Hot Topic ever sponsored a punk tour, it would look an awful lot like this. Venerable LA radio personality Pat ‘DJ Adam Bomb’ Hoed acts as MC and explains that each vocalist will perform mini-sets that will include cuts from the TTK debut, material from their own bands or various, backed by a house band that remains fairly static – Reed on drums, Mick on guitar and the propulsive True Rivals bassist, Derik Envy.
For nearly two hours, 10 different vocalists knock out a hyper-paced panoply of TTK tracks, original material and a slate of skin-peeling covers from acts like Bad Brains, Celtic Frost and the Stooges. Highlights include Tairrie B. Murphy’s (My Ruin) bludgeoning groove metal version of Mudhoney’s Touch Me I’m Sick, Tommy Victor (Prong) singing Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck and one-time Corrosion Of Conformity vocalist Karl Agell’s TTK original, Devil In This House, a crushing avalanche of megalithic power riffs and concrete-splitting rhythms. While Dave Grohl isn’t here, two members of his old DC hardcore band, Scream – Peter and Franz Stahl – turn in the most punk moment of the evening. Apoplectic over the lack of crowd noise after opener Plank Walk, Peter, now standing in the middle of the crowd, bellows, “What the fuck was that? I think we should do this song again. This crowd sucks!” An icy stand-off between Peter, his band and the audience ensues until the musicians finally relent and play Plank Walk again. This time the audience respond as if Peter has just cured cancer.
Entering the home stretch, the introduction of Clutch’s Neil Fallon generates a lusty storm of approval. Turning to the band, Neil says, “Let’s put some gravy on these biscuits,” before deadpanning, “That’s my catchphrase.” His euphorically punishing set includes Clutch’s Pure Rock Fury, TTK’s Crowned By The Light Of The Sun and a pit-inspiring cover of MC5’s Kick Out The Jams. Among tonight’s star-studded lineup, Fear frontman Lee Ving has cast the longest shadow across the evolution of punk and, to a decent extent, metal and his jagged, bullshit-free set includes mostly chunky, anthemic Fear classics, including* New York’s Alright If You Like Saxophones,* Foreign Policy and TTK’s Big Money.
“Good evening, Los Angeles,” says Randy Blythe, channelling his inner Count Dracula as he takes the stage. “Move fast and move violently, this is Hung Out To Dry.” For the next 10 minutes, Randy whips himself into a dreadlocked vortex of combustible energy, twirling, prowling and hurtling across the risers. When he finishes with Black Flag’s My War, Randy falls to his knees and literally drops the mic and it is seven shades of awesome. Finally, it’s down to Corey Taylor, who is shirtless and roaring just like that, lathering the crowd into a sweaty frenzy with TTK track Egobomb, Black Flag’s Rise Above and Misfits’ Where Eagles Dare, inviting all of the other vocalists back onstage for one final, good-timey singalong. Perhaps it’s a reflection of the waning novelty of all-star jams but it’s baffling that the venue is barely half-full. While the gig would have surely benefited from shaving off an hour, nonetheless, shows like this are few and far between and, on this balmy Saturday night, 600 exceedingly lucky bastards enjoyed an enthralling slice of history.