The Misfits at The Starland Ballroom
The Misfits hit their home state of New Jersey on Dia De Los Muertos, Saturday night, and treated the fans with a set heavy with hits from every era of The Misfits mythos.
I got there in time to catch the last few songs of A Midnight Tragedy. A tragedy indeed – this band of post apocalyptic refugees sound like a desperate attempt to grab the attention of the My Chemical Romance crowd while appealing to Avenged Sevenfold fans. They failed in both regards, coming off more like a band pleading to get signed to a major than anything that could be confused with the terms edgy, innovative, or good.
While Zombie Mafia wasn’t exactly what I would call new and fresh, this group of Samhain rejects do a helluva job energizing the crowd while pounding out perfect horror punk tunes in the vein of Graves-era Misfits. The band fuses metal and punk into a fistful of energy that seemed to liven up the bored-looking crowd.
The latest incarnation of The Misfits hit state on time (a far cry from the two hour long waits we endured during their reunion tour), taking to the stage as the theme from Exorcist Halloween chimed from the PA.
The stage set looked the same as it has for the last decade and a half – a massive drum set, flanked by amps, skulls, and skeletons. Bassist and singer Jerry Only cried out for “Halloween,” stirring the mob of costumed fans into a frenzy.
The band proceeded to hammer out dozens of old Misfits songs, never stopping for a breather or to talk to the crowd. “Earth AD,” “Angelfuck,” “Attitude,” “20 Eyes” – nearly every hit from hell was accounted for.
The big surprise of the evening was that Only (not exactly known for his pipes) is a surprisingly competent singer. He nailed all of Danzig’s vocals and wasn’t half bad on the Graves numbers.
Former Black Flag frontman Dez Cadena wailed on his guitar, embellishing the classic numbers with his own licks.
Meanwhile, Robo hid behind a drum kit that was at least twice the size of a traditional set. The toms were literally two toms glued together and mounted with huge metal spikes.
About an hour into the set, the band switched gears and started performing their later songs – slowing down the crowd significantly. “American Psycho” just didn’t seem to get their juices flowing, and it wasn’t until Only cried out for “Dig Up Her Bones” that the fans starting singing again.
Cadena even threw in a few Black Flag tunes for fun, covering “Six Pack,” “Rise Above” and a handful of others before nailing the coffin shut with “Die My Darling.”
While the band performed really well in their current form, it was very hard to ignore the fact that they did not have a dedicated frontman. The short songs kept both Cadena and Only glued to their respective mic stands and they rarely acknowledged the fans. Younger kids didn’t seem to mind, but those that grew up with Danzig’s pounding stage show, or Grave’s non-stop adrenaline rush of a show, couldn’t help but notice that Saturday’s performance was lacking that intangible aura of insanity.
Kudos to The Misfits for keeping the spirit alive, but it might be time to call in a fourth member to rouse the masses.