The “original” Misfits, aka Glenn Danzig, Doyle Von Frankenstein, and Jerry Only (rounded out by the ever-prolific Dave Lombardo on drums and rhythm guitarist Acey Slade), reunited for a hotly anticipated, and hotly debated, hometown throwdown at Newark’s cavernous Prudential Center Arena. Preceded by an eclectic array of openers that included Harley Flanagan of Cro-Mags, Murphy’s Law, and Suicidal Tendencies, it was an evening I approached with a spoonful of eagerness and a dash of trepidation but walked away from with a mind fully blown to gory shreds.
By the time I sleazed my way onto the floor, Harley Flanagan and crew had already exited the stage and Murphy’s Law was about ready to tear into their set. I’ve seen Murphy’s Law about 900 times since 1992, but never have I seen Jimmy G. and co in a place this large. But Jimmy, being the true showman that he is, had absolutely no problem making the room feel as intimate as a basement show in Providence, RI. Being the second of four bands on the schedule, they had a pretty short window to fill, but it was heavy with the classics including “Crucial Bar-B-Q,” “Cavity Creeps,” and Klaus-favorite “Panty Raid.” At one point in their set Jimmy had the band stop playing because he could see a young kid in the crowd having a fairly rough time. He insisted the kid join him in the pit (where Jimmy basically spent the entirety of the set), and for the rest of the set the kid got to see the show from the safety of Jimmy’s side. It was a pretty nice moment, and a definite reminder of the old school hardcore ethos that it’s ok to pummel the shit out of each other, but if someone’s in trouble, give em and hands up for crying out loud. High energy and deafeningly loud, and full of razor sharp stage banter, Murphy’s Law had absolute no trouble filling ever inch of the room.
After a brief intermission, thrash greats Suicidal Tendencies were up and unleashed an absolutely incendiary 10-song career-spanning set of some of their most crucial tunes (setlist below). Although Mike Muir is the only OG member at this point, he has surrounded himself with a really solid and true-to-form cast of bandmates that completely keep the Suicidal sound alive. Specifically, I’d like to shine a massive spotlight on ST’s young and unbelievably talented drummer Brandon Pertzborn. Hailing from LA via Texas with bands like Black Flag and Doyle already on his CV, this lad has got some of the most relentlessly powerful hands and feet I have seen in a LONG time. He provided an insanely tight backbone for the entire set, with an energy that never abated for a single second. I am sure this isn’t the last time we’ll be hearing from him.
On a personal level, the first Suicidal album I ever heard was 1988’s How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can’t Smile Today, and was for a long time the most important aural document for me in terms of navigating my stressful, angst ridden, and confusing pre-teen years. As such, I would have killed to hear more than the one song they played from the album, “Pledge Your Allegiance.” But that is nit-picking. We got “Institutionalized,” “You Can’t Bring Me Down,” “Cyco Vision,” and more. Mike Muir is a powerhouse vocalist and an brutally physical performer. They packed an unbelievable amount of energy into a short window; so much so that they actually felt like a headliner.
At last, it was time for the main attraction. The lead-up to this show was rife with all sorts of saltiness. Foremost was the ticket price. It felt obscenely cost prohibitive and slightly alienating. Then there was the cell-phone ban that had a lot of peoples’ hackles raised. And if I am being honest, these were things that got under my skin as well. But at the end of the day, it’s Glenn, Jerry, and Doyle. Together again for the first time in New Jersey since 1983. If you’re a fan, you sort of had to see this show. Come hell or high water, you swallow the price and you get there. And as far as the cell phone “yondr” scenario goes? This bugged the crap out of me too… that is, until I realized my field of vision wasn’t polluted by a sea of screens. Sure, they started to show up towards the end of the show, but until then it was incredible. It was like being at a show in the ’90s again. It was tear inducingly glorious to be in a room with tens of thousands of people and not see a single screen held aloft by some dingus. It was glorious. Utterly glorious. Darkness. All around me.
But I digress. Plain and simple, the Misfits were pants shittingly amazing. Backed by a wall of amps with glow-in-the-dark crimson ghosts painted on them and a massive LED screen, Jerry, Glenn, Doyle, Dave, and Acey tore through a career spanning 27-song setlist that had the crowd going completely bonkers. I have never seen so many people scream-singing along to a band to this extent in my life. The setlist is below, and it’s not really easy to say which songs stood out over others. It feels impossible to quantify. What did stand out was the omission of “We Are 138,” a song that has been stuck in my head since, oh, 1991? God that is an itch I wish the would’ve scratched. Sonically, the band did manage to capture the lo-fi qualities that makes them so appealing in the first place. Jerry’s bass tone sounded as dirty and as heavy as ever. And both the bass and guitar seemed to be jusssssst a hair out of tune the whole time which sort of captured the aural essence of the various 80s Misfits bootleg vinyls I’ve got kicking around. Every single song they played got me as pumped as the one they played before it, and when the house lights went up I was literally sad it was over. They’ve done a few of these “original Misfits” gigs since 2016, but for now tonight’s onslaught was the last one on their itinerary. Will it be their last? Good Christ, I hope not.
We took some pictures from the pre-show scene from outside the Prudential Center and those are in the gallery below, along with setlists and a few yondr-free Instagrams.
THE MISFITS Setlist : Prudential Center, Newark : May 19, 2018
Death Comes Ripping
I Turned Into a Martian
Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?
Where Eagles Dare
Teenagers From Mars
Who Killed Marilyn
Die, Die My Darling
Night of the Living Dead
Some Kinda Hate
All Hell Breaks Loose
Suicidal Tendencies Setlist : Prudential Center, Newark : May 19, 2018
You Can’t Bring Me Down
I Shot the Devil
Two Sided Politics
Ain’t Gonna Take It
War Inside My Head
Pledge Your Allegiance