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Circle Jerks

Circle Jerks: live in Philadelphialive in Philadelphia (2006)
Kung Fu Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5


Contributed by: JohnGentileJohnGentile
(others by this writer | submit your own)

As punk icons grow older, they tend to subdue the snarling, snapping music that originally brought them notice and begin to create more subtle, reserved music. Joe Strummer, Ian Mackaye, John Lydon, and even quintessential punk rocker Joey Ramone all created slower, more delicate music after the dem.


As punk icons grow older, they tend to subdue the snarling, snapping music that originally brought them notice and begin to create more subtle, reserved music. Joe Strummer, Ian Mackaye, John Lydon, and even quintessential punk rocker Joey Ramone all created slower, more delicate music after the demise of the bands which set them on their pedestals. That's not to say that these later offering are somehow less "punk" than the earlier cuts. Rather, as punk heros mature, they tend to feel the need to try different types of music, experimenting with acoustic sounds, world music and even techno beats. But, what happens when the aging punk hero refuses to allow his spirit to age with his body? The answer is the continual existence of the Circle Jerks. What happens when this type of band continues to play live dates? An interesting reaction is created, as was seen at the Circle Jerks show at Philadelphia's Trocadero on October 17, 2006.

Composed of singer Keith Morris (ex-Black Flag), guitarist Greg Hetson (currently also in Bad Religion), Zander Schloss (currently also in the Weirdos) and a relatively new drummer, the Jerks exploded on stage, but failed to even singe the audience. Musically, the band was as tight as ever, ripping through about 20 Circle Jerks songs, with an emphasis on the early catalogue. With little dialogue between each song, Keith Morris hissed and barked and growled and snarled with even more venom than on the albums. With the dreadlocked singer approaching 50 and ailing from diabetes, that is certainly an accomplishment. Defying their ages, the band played with as much energy as they did 20 years ago on "The Decline of Western Civilization." The encore was a special treat as the band ripped through Black Flag's "Revenge" and "Gimme Gimme Gimmie," both co-penned by Morris and Black Flag guitarist, Greg Ginn.

So, if the band was fiery on stage, why did they fail to ignite the crowd? Even Keith Morris recognized the lack of audience energy, as about halfway through the set, he went off on a diatribe about how the place "had no vibe" and that he felt like he was "driving a car but not going anywhere." He then continued to apologize to the crowd stating that the lack of chemistry wasn't their fault. The crowd itself hardly moved during any of the songs, with a few people moshing and others just watching. The music was good. The performances were good. But still, the crowd seemed unimpressed by one of the founders of hardcore punk.

One reason that may explain the crowd's disinterest was that the show itself was billed as a Pennywise show, with Circle Jerks opening. There had also been two bands before the Jerks. So, if the majority of the crowd was there to see Pennywise, perhaps they didn't know who the Circle Jerks were and what made them special. Perhaps, the crowd thought that the Jerks were just a bunch of 45-year-old guys jumping around the stage. Still, bands like Pennywise have founded their sound on groundbreaking punk acts like Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Red Kross and the Germs. If this was the case, and the crowd didn't know who the jerks were, then it is very strange. This equates as going to see the Rolling Stones and failing to be impressed by opener Chuck Berry.

Maybe this is the reason that most punk icons change their music as they grow. They felt the need to change with their audience. When Clash fans grow old, maybe they enjoy more poetical music, so Joe Strummer changed his sound to keep his audience. Maybe since the Circle Jerks play their music as loud, fast and fierce as 1980, their core fans have matured past this type of music. Conversely, younger fans possibly would rather see younger people playing punk as opposed to an old guy with really, really long dreadlocks.

This is a shame as younger fans still have a chance to see living legends play some darn good tunes. Mountains of praise are heaped upon Joe Strummer, Joey Ramone, and Darby Crash. But, they're all dead. They were/are wonderful, but they're not around to appreciate the accolades. The Circle Jerks are still alive and putting on a great show, so it would be nice if this preoccupation with death could be dropped and appreciation could be given to those who are still around to enjoy it.

Well, Mr. Morris, Mr. Schloss, and Mr. Hetso , if you're reading this, I want you to know that even though most people at the Philly show didn't get revved up, I though you were wonderful and you sure made my day. So, let's have a Circle Jerks headlining tour. This way, the people coming to the show will know that they are in the presence of hardcore's founding fathers and not just some guys with receding hairlines and penchants for short songs.

P.S. I ran into Zander Schloss after the show. I asked, "What are the chances for a new album?" He said, "Really good. We're writing new material right now." Kick-ass.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
sailin_on (October 4, 2010)

I had just turned 17 when I saw this show. I was the closest I could possibly be to the band right up against the bar. I couldn't tell what the other people in the back were doing but to me, this show was wild. I remembered this set more than I did Pennywise's set actually. I was banging my curly locks back and forth to every song (most of which I didn't know any way). Keith Morris then pointed straight at me and told the bouncer to give me a water bottle. Talk about a huge impact on my life right there.

Anonymous (October 31, 2006)

saw them in 83 saw them in 05....if you do like them thats "your problem....live fast die young" are you kidding me. You kids just don't get it!

Anonymous (October 30, 2006)

leave skating out of this...I've been skating for 11 years. if we weren't little annoying skaters as kids listening to Ramones, minor threat and bad brains, you were just some dumbass rollerblader, teeny bopper, jock, or just a misunderstood loser with no friends to share their love of common interests with. skating is an "outlet" just like punk so stick a fork in it

Anonymous (October 29, 2006)

I couldn't agree more.

Anonymous (October 29, 2006)

The last comment makes the most sense. I live in Philly, grew up in the eighties scene and beleive me, the fire is gone here. The new crowd has no clue. I kinda figured people like Morris knew that considering American Hardcore has yet to show here.

http://tescosplace.blogspot.com

Cos (October 29, 2006)

The Circle Jerks were a great band. Now they are a museum piece. I see nothing wrong with them playing/touring or whatever, even for the money, because obviously the demand is there and there are a lot of kids (myself included) who didn't get to see the real thing when they were originally around.

But don't be fooled into thinking that this is a vital band or that the lyrics Keith penned when he was 17 really have any relevence to himself anymore. And DON'T hope for new material. These guys aren't Bad Religion (Greg doesn't write any of those songs, nitpickers). It is what it is.

I don't blame the kids for not going off in Phili.

Maks (October 29, 2006)

i agree with jadetee, exept about the germs. i don't care to see things like that.

JayTee (October 29, 2006)

"See, the Circle Jerks are no longer relevent. Any band that does any touring without the intention of writing new material (or breaking up after that tour) is essentially a nostalgia act."

Once again, (and again and again) relevence isn't a reason to listen to music. As for being a nostalgia act, that's all well and good for people who are 40, but I had a hell of a time seeing them for the FIRST time 3 years ago when I was 21. I'm having a blast seeing older bands like TSOL, Circle Jerks, 3/4ths of the Germs and Adolescents because I just plain like the songs and sometimes I think theyve got more experience to know how to put on a decent show unlike the prima donnas of today.

Anonymous (October 29, 2006)

"Now I'm as big a fan of hardcore punk as any one, but associating the Circle Jerks with the sk8ers cannot be a favorable juxtaposition. Some of you may disagree, but let me ask you: Is there anything that is more fucking obnoxious than a litttle kid who thinks that he skates and listens to the Circle Jerks with all of his annoying little skater friends?

I say that there isn't."

That's cool.

I say you're an idiot.

-Will

Anonymous (October 29, 2006)

I just Watched "Straight to Hell" last night. Zander Schloss gets owned.

Anonymous (October 28, 2006)

Has anyone ever noticed that when the Circle Jerks are mentioned, there is always someone who talks about how they were totally into them in Middle School, and they were skating, and the Circle Jerks got them back into skating, or some bullshit like that?

Now I'm as big a fan of hardcore punk as any one, but associating the Circle Jerks with the sk8ers cannot be a favorable juxtaposition. Some of you may disagree, but let me ask you: Is there anything that is more fucking obnoxious than a litttle kid who thinks that he skates and listens to the Circle Jerks with all of his annoying little skater friends?

I say that there isn't.

feeeding5000 (October 28, 2006)

I'm disappointed that no one put the umlauts over the "a" in Larm. See, the Circle Jerks are no longer relevent. Any band that does any touring without the intention of writing new material (or breaking up after that tour) is essentially a nostalgia act. Some old bands do write new material, but because of their modern-day irrelevence, are still nostalgia acts. Look at the Rolling Stones. They made a new album, but only because they thought that people cared about their views on Bush. People don't. Just like how I don't care about the Circle Jerks' views on anything, nowadays. Their music was about being a young, bored, outisider, who couldn't get a break, or a date. Now that they're old, with a member in Bad Religion, everything they were about has been taken up by other bands.

Anonymous (October 28, 2006)

"and zander or anyone else in the band who tells you they're working on new material is lying their ass off because they've been saying that for like the last 10-15 years. sorry to kill your hopes guy."

he works in fuckin guitar center in hollywood, everyone should go down there and bother him til they make some new material

harry_the_dentist (October 28, 2006)

I don't know about anyone else, but I think Keith needs to focus on making a new Midget Handjob album.

Anonymous (October 27, 2006)

"i realize that you dont like bands that are popular or anything done before you were born but how can you not love an album like full circle?"

Well then you realize wrong since the Circle Jerks themselves are popular, and like most of the music I listen to, at their peak years before I was born.

I find Pennywise boring and mediocre, to answer your question. There's way worse music to listen to, yeah, but when it comes to hardcore, there's waaay better.

-Will

Godfather (October 27, 2006)

Will, what are your thoughts on pennywise? i'm dying to know.....i realize that you dont like bands that are popular or anything done before you were born but how can you not love an album like full circle?

Anonymous (October 27, 2006)

", only breaking up because the label that they disagreed with a lot of what the label they signed to was doing "

Okay, I meant "only breaking up because they disagreed with a lot of what the label that they signed to was doing"

Anonymous (October 27, 2006)

Yeah, well Larm and Circle Jerks are completely different. Larm basically continued with DIY hardcore, only breaking up because the label that they disagreed with a lot of what the label they signed to was doing (they broke up without releasing anything for Nuclear Blast, right? Or Earache? Whichever one they signed to). Circle Jerks have been off/on for years, playing whenever "punk" seems to be profitable. I still love their first three albums, but have you heard that hunk of shit they made in the 90's? Or "Wonderful?" Or "IV?" Cutesy hard rock shit.

I'm not against the idea of old guys sticking with hardcore. Seein' Red are awesome. But you have to admit that a lot of the old hardcore bands that tour around these days are out for nostalgia cash and nothing more.

-Will

givemeamuseumandillfillit (October 27, 2006)

"I'm wary of most old punk/hardcore bands that reunite, especially for these extended periods"

If you lived in Europe, you wouldn't be. When a band like Lärm. who broke up because they thought it was weird that they gained fame for what they were doing, reunites for a few (absolutley breathtaking) shows, do you really think they've went against their beleifs for cash?

Anonymous (October 27, 2006)

Ignite owned this show even if circle jerks are legends.

Anonymous (October 27, 2006)

did you see the new jerihtol commercial starring the circle jerks?

feeeding5000 (October 27, 2006)

Yeah...Pannywise is absolutely unlistenable, and you would think that their fans would at least know who the Circle Jerks are. I mean, Pennywise aren't nearly as big as they were in the 90's, so one would assume their fans would be a little older now, or more discerning. Then again, they do listen to Pennywise.

swingline (October 27, 2006)

pennywise is better than circle jerks? WHAT THE FUCKING SHIT COCKS??

JerryCola (October 27, 2006)

The Adolescents only tour when Tony isn't teaching which is basically during winter break and the summer...

Circle Jerks only tour whenever Greg Hetson isn't busy with Bad Religion activities...

that said, a Adolescents/Circle Jerks tour would be amazing on so many levels.

Maks (October 27, 2006)

that's sad.
they should do a tour with like the adolescents that i think is still touring right now, and some new band that actually have the same fans of them.

Anonymous (October 27, 2006)

pennywise is the touring band, they choose who opens up for them. obviously circle jerks dont have a problem with it

Anonymous (October 27, 2006)

The thing with the Circle Jerks is that they're too old and doing it for the wrong reasons now. I read an interview with Greg Hetson a couple of years ago where someone asked him about new punk bands and he said "I don't really listen to that stuff anymore." Which is fine, but then why is he touring with the Circle Jerks? I guess it pays.

I'm wary of most old punk/hardcore bands that reunite, especially for these extended periods. They write maybe a half-assed new album every ten years or a couple songs that sound like a ghost of their former glory and use it as a cheap excuse to tour/make money.

-Will

dev (October 27, 2006)

I saw this same tour roll thru Winnipeg. Circle Jerks were way betterlive than I gave them credit for. Score is for their set in the 'peg.

88FingersOscar (October 27, 2006)

The portland show was awesome. Ignite was my fav of the nite personally but my friends were huge circle jerks fans, i thought all the bands that played did awesome.

Mute98 (October 27, 2006)

"t's preposperous and sad for the (great) Circle Jerks to be opening for Pennywise, a dire bunch of drunk California jockboys who play punk "coz it's fer tuff guyz.""

theyre both from the exact same scene, just about 7 years apart.. basically fuck off, both bands rule

Anonymous (October 27, 2006)

awesome linup of bands, but bad vibe and pennywise plays the exact same set list minus the new stuff, like i dig them, but i know all the songs they will play and why ask the crowd what cover song they want to hear, when u know its going to be minor threat, so boycott pennywise till they play a different set list, great band, bad setlist, oh and ignite and circle jerks were like jawntastic live, NOW GO BUY THE NEW STREET DOGS CD!! MUCHO RAD!!

Anonymous (October 27, 2006)

well JohnGentile...

I highly doubt you were in the pit going nuts.

Pussy.

People like you are the reason there was no energy.

Anonymous (October 27, 2006)

Also, I'd imagine lots of people are probably turned off by the whole "nostalgia act" thing. I mean, it's like seeing Ginn's "Black Flag" or "The Misfits". It's a celebrity cover band, not really The Germs.

It's still fucking insane anything with Greg Ginn in can play below Pennywise though. 'Bro Hymn' yo...

Anonymous (October 27, 2006)

no one could ever understand my circle jerks shirts i wore when i was a child. one got me sent to the head office in 5th grade, the only other time that happened was a dk in god shirt , that was the next day . this seems to be 20 years ago. it cant be?!?!?!

Anonymous (October 27, 2006)

fuck pennywise. sorry. the jerks need to create own tour w/ some real inspirational punk bands.

Anonymous (October 27, 2006)

fuck the weirdos , for sure fuck the flag, and forget about bad religion.......but the circle jerks, thanks guys for all the support when i was a small child. thats why when i started skating again....your sticker was proudly presented, to remind me of the freedom you gave me.

wallofyouth (October 27, 2006)

my goodness. group sex > bro hymn.

i'd like to see pennywise open for deviates.

skankin_in_the_pit (October 27, 2006)

I'm pretty surprised by this. Vegas crowds are usually pretty lackluster, and all the hotel/casino related venues have a very generic vibe, but the Circle Jerks have gotten pretty good receptions here.

Ignite has always been one of those bands that everyone loves (and I should based on what I like) that I can't get into.

Anonymous (October 27, 2006)

U did a good job writing this, I was at this show also, I was going to write something but I didn't know how to put all my words together. You seemed to sum it up well..

Anonymous (October 27, 2006)

It's preposperous and sad for the (great) Circle Jerks to be opening for Pennywise, a dire bunch of drunk California jockboys who play punk "coz it's fer tuff guyz."

Mute98 (October 27, 2006)

im with godfather on this one, PW and ignite are so much better.. while CJ did influence PW, PW is still better. im sorry but i dont base a record on "influence" i base it on the actual music

Godfather (October 27, 2006)

i am crazy but you're wrong.

pennywise > circle jerks

JerryCola (October 27, 2006)

You're crazy, Circle Jerks are legendary because Group Sex, Wild In The Streets, and Golden Show Of Hits are all classic albums.

I like Pennywise but there's no way in hell they should be headlining over the Circle Jerks.

Godfather (October 27, 2006)

my score is for the baltimore show....the crowd was moshing all through the circle jerks set....but to be honest, i was there to see ignite and pennywise....the circle jerks have some awesome songs and it's cool to see them still slaying away, but i'm not a very big fan.....i think they are more legendary because they've been around so fucking long

SloaneDaley (October 27, 2006)

most veteran bands play the small places when they come here for a reason that is because they know they will have a better show if only the true fans show up.

Anonymous (October 27, 2006)

On the Pennywise live album before they cover Minor Threat they run through a short list of their influences, with the Circle Jerks being one of them. What a fucking shitty way to be treated by fans of a band who wouldn't exist without you.

Anyone else think Pennywise should have opened for the Circle Jerks?

Anonymous (October 27, 2006)

the Jersey crowd at the stone pony was equally as bad but I think this is a trend at pennywise shows, uneducated fans at least as far as punk rock history goes. However Ignite had a much more enthusiastic response from the crowd, tons of people sang along. Humorously the best reaction to the Circle Jerks was when they played the Black Flag songs in their set. I have been a fan of the circle jerks since for around 15 years since i was 13 and the only negative thing i can say from this performance aside from the crowd was that their set list could have used some better flow, just as the crowd started moving they would play something that would slow them down. It's a shame the reaction was so piss poor though I thouroghly enjoyed the set.

Anonymous (October 27, 2006)

I heard the same type of thing happened in Portland but not to the same extent. The show in Portland was sold out and I heard that Pennywise had the crowd going nuts. People still danced for the Circle Jerks though.

joeg (October 27, 2006)

that'd be pretty sad if this was the reaction they got on most of this tour. i actually thought pennywise/ignite fans would be psyched to see the circle jerks on the bill. shows you what i know. even more sad is this is probably the way they go out as i'm hearing this is their last go around.

and zander or anyone else in the band who tells you they're working on new material is lying their ass off because they've been saying that for like the last 10-15 years. sorry to kill your hopes guy.

Anonymous (October 27, 2006)

Anybody who dislikes the Circle Jerks but likes some half-assed shit like Pennywise should hang their head in shame.

JerryCola (October 27, 2006)

Maybe Philly crowds just suck ass...

I'd kill to see a Circle Jerks show in Chicago.

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