I had never really been to a true "punk" show before. So upon hearing that the pioneers of California's first wave of punk would be playing at the Quest Main Stage, I decided to go. Unfortunately, the show itself was shifted to the Ascot Room, a substantially smaller setting. But it would only provide a more intimate atmosphere as the Dead Kennedys' "California Uber Allies" played over the PA upon my arrival. While the nearly two hour wait for the Circle Jerks to perform would be hard to bear, it was ultimately worth it considering the opening band played quite well.
That band, Trial By Fire, would take the stage to tune their own instruments at about 6:30 P.M. Their lead singer/guitarist opened the show by saying something to the effect of, "Hey, we're Trial By Fire. We'd like to thank the Circle Jerks for having us out. Oh, and everybody please move up." From this moment, the crowd was exposed to a fast-paced blend of hardcore for the next half hour or so which was a bit more metal than punk. There was a prominent lack of bass in the mix but by night's end, their bassist had made a solo. If anything, Trial By Fire made the antagonizing wait for the Circle Jerks to take the stage seem a bit shorter. They even wandered about in the audience and I met their guitarist.
As the Dead Kennedys' "Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death" continued to blare on indiscriminately, many fans began to ponder what the Circle Jerks would play with
"Live Fast Die Young" seeming to be the consensus favorite. Then at 7:37, a dread-locked man wearing a gray t-shirt and black shorts took the stage to duck tape setlists about the stage's perimeter. Sure enough, it was none other than Keith Morris. Many shouted out to him but he just went about his business leaving for a minute or two only to return shortly after.
Naturally, the Circle Jerks were greeted by an eager audience who were ready for the show to start. But, Mr. Morris would proceed to take his time to say the following:
"Everyone say hello to Dave in the back. Now, we have a new drummer. His name is Kevin. Everyone say hi to Kevin. You could sing ‚??Happy Birthday' to him but it's not his birthday. This is our bass player. His name is Zander. Many of you probably recognize him from his role in ‚??Repo Man' but he won't be singing the 7-UP theme song tonight. That's our guitarist, Greg Heston. You kids probably know him from Bad Religion. My name is Keith. I'm an alcoholic and cocaine addict. This is Circle Jerks Anonymous."
After taking a rather introduction, the Circle Jerks broke into an intense rendition of "Wild In The Streets." Keith roamed around the stage and screamed at a very high pitch. As soon as the song was finished, Greg Heston started playing the intro to "Letter Bomb" which was immediately followed with "In Your Eyes." Having not played anything off "Group Sex," a blistering pair of
classics, "I Just Want Some Skank" and "Beverly Hills," were performed next to much applause.
Having fulfilled the seemingly inevitable concession to old material, Keith asked if Minnesota had Hot Topic (with many fans booing in response) and ridiculed the store citing, "We think it's really cool because that's where New Found Glory buys their clothes." He then talked about a new album that was due in February‚?¶..of 2008 or 2009 but played "Anxious Boy" off their last studio release. A few other songs preceded "I & I" which is actually a cover that a singer from the Flesheaters had written. "The Crowd" was also performed but very few people (aside from myself and a few others) sang the
"All the world must live here part" which was a bit disappointing particularly to Mr. Morris who said the lyric was very important in post 9/11 America.
Keith was in slightly better spirits during "Wonderful" allowing many members of the audience to sing along and would later tease Zander for having an "operation" before playing "Operation." Finally, the Dead Boys'classic, "I Wanna Destroy You," was given the live treatment before the Circle Jerks left the stage having performed (what I believe to be, believe it or not) "Another Broken Heart For Snake."
But, everyone knew such a song would not close the show as Keith introduced the next number as the
"first song we wrote as a band" but later commenting, "Oh, no, it was the second." Another classic, "World Up My Ass" was performed. With a refusal to play "Live Fast Die Young" (Keith- "I've seen death. It doesn't scare me.") "Wasted" would follow, a song written back in Morris' Black Flag
days about Greg's girlfriend. I still don't know what the third song of the encore was though there was some line along the terms of "I won't apologize" if that makes any difference. By that point my ears were pretty shot, but it was a small cost to pay for such a show.
So in a punk climate that is constantly becoming more homogeneous with the likes of Drive-Thru records churning out New Found Glory clones, the Circle Jerks turned out a set that ranged from social satires ("Beverly Hills") to castration ("Operation") and even to making the world a better place ("Wonderful"). If anything, the Circle Jerks proved that they would not sink into the same anonymity as many modern punk bands have even though their fans were (after all) attending "Circle Jerks Anonymous."
Wild In The Streets
Letter Bomb/In Your Eyes
I Just Want Some Skank/Beverly Hills
All Wound Up
Back Against The Wall
I & I
Coup ‚??D' Etat
Beat Me Senseless
Behind The Door
When The Shit Hits the Fan
I Wanna Destroy You
Another Broken Heart For Snake (?)
World Up My Ass