December 15, 2008

Concert Review: Misfits and Murphy's Law w/ Left in Ruins, C.U.Next Thursday and Others - Poughkeepsie, NY 12/13/08

Two stages, nine bands, great way to spend a Saturday night, right? The correct answer is "Yes." Even if you are not familiar with all the bands and even if the predominant style for the night is not among your favorites. The night was a punk extravaganza featuring nearly 6 hours of music. With excitement on tap and alcoholic beverages running free it is very easy to get into music of any sort. This night found a predominantly metal music fan rubbing elbows with punk legends and local up and comers. It was a great night that found me falling more to the side of fun and less to the side of business, however it is difficult to separate the two. That brings us to this point.

To this point in my writing career, I have written about a decent number of concerts. Most of those shows I went to with the point of having fun, but also to write about the experience. As this night began I was more in the mood to sit back and have fun, but the deeper into the night it got, and after getting a couple of beers in me, I knew I was going to want to write about the night even knowing it would likely be different than any of the other shows I'd written about, if for no reason other than not being a punk fan and not catching the names of half the bands I saw.

When I got To The Chance Theater Complex and made my way up to The Loft portion of the building, the small stage was already in full swing. The first band was about half way through their set. They were pretty good, the smallish crowd was getting plenty raucous as they ripped through their high energy tunes. Nothing really stood out, but it was catchy and sometimes that is all that we need. They ended and I got my first beer as the second band began to set up.

I guess I should mention that one of my reasons for being here was one of my friend and co-worker's band was one of the acts scheduled to play the small stage, in the coveted spot just prior to Murphy's Law, no less. So there I was, enjoying a frosty beverage, hanging with a friend and just having some fun as a small cadre of fellow co-workers began to stream in to enjoy the show.

The second act came, stirred up a ruckus and left as anonymously as the first. I do not know if these bands were purposely not saying who they were or I was inexplicably missing. The second act was a bit of a step up from the first, but still nothing terribly special.

It always seemed to me that punk was the genre that guys turned to when they could not play their instruments all that well, hiding behind raw aggression and energy to cover up their lack of skills. Of course those thoughts only go so far as the punk bands that last any period of time demonstrate moderate instrument skills highlighted by keen songwriting.

As the third act, again anonymous, began to set up I made my way downstairs into The Chance Theater to see how things were developing there. The crowd was slowly growing, but the first band had not yet taken the stage. The PA was playing the likes of Fear, Black Flag, and King Diamond as the crowd waited for the main stage to get underway.

I made my way back upstairs and found my friend's band getting ready for their set, it was right around 8:00. Now this is a band whose name I know, they are C. U. Next Thursday (it's an acronym). It is the second time I have seen them and the first since they began transforming from a cover band into an originals band. This performance was hands down better than the last time I saw them, despite some issues with the mix. I had a hard time hearing the lead guitars. Still, the set was high energy and although it took a while for the crowd to react, they were into it before too long. They did still do a couple of cover tunes, one was a song by Fear and the other was Skid Row's "I Remember You" with a punk edge to it.

I would hesitate to really call them good, but they are certainly fun. Energetic set, crowd involving presence, and just high energy throughout. They are definitely a band to check out and, if nothing else, get drunk with. Highlights include the very popular, and very brief, "Handtruck" and the masterfully misspelled "MASTERbation Song" (be sure to get a load of what the lead guitar player does during the song).

Following the set we helped them take their gear out to their cars while Murphy's Law got their gear set up. Downstairs the main stage was well underway, although I am not sure who was on at this point. We hung around outside for a while before making our way back upstairs.

As we stepped back into The Loft the heat and stink hit us like a brick wall, a to be expected side effect of a Murphy's Law show. We stood there watching these punk legends do what they do best, play music, get the crowd going, We watched as they performed such songs as "Beer Song," "Panty Raid," and "Secret Agent Skin," among others. The crowd was moving back and forth like a wave, bodies floated over it as piles occasionally formed around front man Johnny Gestapo as they got together to sing.

After a few cuts my friends and I decided to migrate back to The Chance to escape the heat and to see how that stage was progressing. A band was just finishing up. I did not pay them much mind, but the crowd seemed to really be digging it.

The night had been long, but there was just one more act before the Misfits were to take the stage, and it is the one band on this long night of music that was well within my wheelhouse. Left In Ruins, an extreme metal act from the Hudson Valley took the stage with their three guitar attack and proceeded to tear the stage up. Even my friends looked at me and said how good they are. Shredding solos, skull crushing riffs, and driving drums all merged to create an undeniable wall of metal. I had a few people standing around me, high up on the balcony, ask me who they were, I replied "Left In Ruins." They left with a contented smile on their face knowing they were hearing something really good.

Left In Ruins set ended and one of my friends and I made our way downstairs to get a little closer to the Misfit action. On the way I bumped into Hatebreed's Matt Byrne, helping out the club and looking forward to taking in the Misfits performance. We made our way to a spot not far from the bar with as good a view as we could get and waited for the lights to drop.

It was just past 11:00 when the lights dimmed and the familiar notes of John Carpenter's classic Halloween theme. The trio of Jerry Only, Dez Cardena (ex-Black Flag), and Robo took the stage and immediately broke into "Halloween." What followed was 75-minutes of non-stop punk songs as Jerry Only took no time between songs as he took us on a whirlwind tour of Misfits history in what appeared to be chronological order until the end.

I like the Misfits, although I must admit to not being terribly well verse in their history (Famous Monsters was my first experience). Still, I picked up on a number songs throughout, including "Teenagers from Mars," "Attitude," "Astro Zombies," as well as all of the songs from American Psycho and Famous Monsters. Of course, there were also the classics like "Last Caress" and set closer "Die, Die My Darling."

I must say that The Chance was absolutely packed for the Misfits, one of the biggest crowds I have seen there in some time. Not only were there a lot of people, every single one was into it from start to finish. Everyone enjoying the stage littered with props from Jerry's skeleton mic stand to the Fiend faces with glowing eyes, to the impaled skulls on Robo's drum kit.

As the show ended Jerry remained on stage bringing the cheers from the crowd. He walked back and forth across the stage signing autographs on shirts, hats, posters, ticket stubs, and whatever else he was handed. As it was the last night of the tour, he even through his wrist gauntlets into the crowd for some lucky fans.

It was a great night for all as we were expelled sweaty and exhausted in the cold air of the night.

Misfit's set list (I believe this is pretty accurate):
Earth A.D.
Horror Business
Hybrid Moments
Teenagers From Mars
Some Kinda Hate
Astro Zombies
I Turned Into A Martian
20 Eyes
Six Pack
Horror Hotel
Ghouls Night Out
Hollywood Babylon
London Dungeon
Thirsty and Miserable
American Psycho
Walk Among Us
Dig Up Her Bones
Kong At the Gates / The Forbidden Zone
Crawling Eye
Last Caress
American Nightmare
We are 138

Green Hell
Rise Above
Die Die My Darling


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