Lead singer Jack Terricloth was somewhat of a ghastly sight as he leered over the crowd during World/Inferno Friendship Society's signature opening tune "Tattoo's Fade." Between his hands hovering just over the heads of the audience, his pale skin, coal black eyes and shining teeth, Terricloth looked down right hungry. During the band's first show of their Winter tour at Oakland, Calif.'s Metro Opera House Jan. 26, the band demonstrated that with their new lineup they don't just look hungry, they are hungry.
Coming off the back of 2011's phenomenal The Anarchy and The Ecstasy, the band has a new lineup with only long time members Terricloth and Sandra Malak in the fold. The new band features fewer instruments than ever before, with only an electric violin, piano, and saxophone in addition to the usual rock band setup.
Interestingly, with fewer weapons at their disposal, the band now brings focus to each instrument when playing live, as opposed to their former method of creating a shifting wall of sound. But, with their new players, the band is trimmer, but also punchier than before. Songs seem to zip along a just a hair faster gait then before. Each note seems to be more precise and bold, making the music feel more "punk" than it has in some time.
While their fall 2011 tour featured a good number of newer songs, the winter tour features a selection from throughout their career. The newer songs, particularly "The Apple Was Eve," seem more explosive than their studio versions, with reflective subtly swapped for opera-style howling with Malak showing that her pipes could sit right next to Pavoratti. Even the album's most reflective piece, "The Politics of Passing Out," which featured Terricloth on acoustic guitar, seemed to morph from a singer-songwriter type piece to a, dare I say, Billy Joel soulful ballad?
The gems of the evening were the (fairly) rare "Jeffery Lee Pierce," which sped along in its full reckless glory, and new tune that seemed to be the type of song the band was born to write. Although they didn't announce the title, it walked the thin line between speakeasy jazz swinger and anarcho-punk calls for smashing everything in sight.
Although in my review of The Anarchy and The Ecstasy I suggested that the band had been somewhat bruised, it seems that a little bruising and shaking up is just what the band needed… and liked.
Openers East Bay Ray and the Killer Smiles (featuring Dead Kennedys guitarist East Bay Ray) played through a number of songs from their debut LP. While the versions were a little more energetic than the studio versions, the audience seemed to get most excited when the band kicked into some classic Dead Kennedys cuts. Vocalist Skip McSkipster ably handled the jumping yelp of hallmark tunes "Police Truck," "Too Drunk to Fuck" and "Holiday in Cambodia," but East bay Ray showed that his is as tight as ever on the guitar and really does have a unique style.
[The Adicts also played, but alas, I could not stay for it. Oh, why? Some of us have jobs, son.]
-This time, W/IFS played with East Bay Ray. Last time they were in the bay area, Jello Biafra joined them on stage. Interesting, no?
-There is a fairly direct connection between W/IFS and the Dead Kennedys. Do you know it?
-East Bay Ray is really, really tall.