Misfits / She Demons - Live in Santa Ana (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Misfits / She Demons

Live in Santa Ana (2015)

live show

Preface: I do realize that this review may draw some attention from readers and commenters who will say something along the lines of “That’s not the REAL Misfits!” or “It’s not the Misfits unless Glenn Danzig is fronting the band!” Fine. You’re super-hardcore and punk rock. I get it. You’re acknowledged. And I’m not saying that you’re wrong. But for simplicity of this review I will refer to the headlining band of this show as the “Misfits” knowing full well that there is a major rift within the scene about this band. If you can’t handle that, that’s fine. Read something else. I would just hope that some of you would have an opened mind to at least read what went down at this show. Who knows? Maybe you’ll learn something. Can we move on now? Great. Thanks!

For like the last four or five times the Misfits played in the Los Angeles area I for some reason always missed them. The time before this they were playing the same day as The World/Inferno Friendship Society and I decided to sell my Misfits ticket and go see World/Inferno instead. That was last November and I figured at some point they’d be back here to perform.

Predictably, I was right. It was announced that they’d be playing at The Observatory in Santa Ana, CA for three nights and each night they’d play one if their classic albums, plus a “best of” set. I chose to go to the first night, Thursday, June 18, 2015, because they were playing all of Static Age, which is my favorite Misfits album and I was especially looking forward to hearing the song “Bullet” live. And as a guitar player myself, I was very excited to see Dez Cadena play as well. I thought that this was a pretty good way to see the Misfits for the first time seeing how a reunion with the original line up is more than unlikely at this time.

So I managed to get out of a business meeting early, change, and drive the awful 60 miles from Burbank to Santa Ana (remember its LA driving. Yes, it’s really THAT bad) just in time to make it for the second opening act and get in the second row behind the barricade. After a few minutes of waiting Jerry Only gets on stage to introduce the next band. He talked about how about a year ago he and the rest of the Misfits came up with this idea and that this was the band’s first show ever. The band was called the She Demons and it was an all-female, Misfits-influenced band. All of them were clearly dressed in very revealing clothing and costumes that were skin-tight and all black. And I have to hand it to them. For their very first show, they did a great job. All five of the members really had a really good handle on their respective instruments. They didn’t really come off as a “punk” band, but they leaned more towards hard rock and metal. They sang songs about blood, hell…you get the point. They even played a Ramones cover, which was pretty cool.

Now as the Misfits were setting up their gear I noticed this young roadie who looked a lot like Jerry Only. I didn’t really think much of it at the time, but do keep this in mind as you read further.

After about fifteen or twenty minutes of waiting for them to set up the lights in the venue go dark, the screen in the back of the stage started playing mildly disturbing images, and this spooky music started playing, and then the fiend walked about with his tri-candle candelabrum and then walked off stage slowly like a ghost. Once the scary music stops, the band takes stage and much to my chagrin Dez Cadena is nowhere to be found. The young-looking roadie who looked like Jerry Only was in full Misfits costume, black outfit, eye make-up, devil lock and all. Later on during the show Jerry would introduce their new guitar player as his son. It wasn’t even so much that I was disappointed that Dez was not playing guitar for the Misfits anymore and Jerry’s son was, but the band didn’t make any sort of announcement about it at all before the show. It was a day or so later that I found out that Dez Cadena made the announcement on his private Facebook page, but a “heads up” from the band would have been nice.

Just to review, it’s now Jerry Only on lead vocals and bass, Jerry Only’s son on guitar, and Eric Arce on drums. The surprise change in the band’s line up did not ruin my night at all. It was definitely a minor frustration, but I could deal with it. I was there for the music, to hear all of Static Age! I was not there to obsess over the Misfits’ current band members.

Now the way they set up the mics was pretty interesting. There were four mics set up for two singers. Jerry and his son would switch between the four mics during each song throughout the show and really try to make sure both of them addressed each side of the audience. I found this aspect of the show a bit confusing at first because that’s a lot of extra work to do on stage, for what I see would be very little pay off. I didn’t get the point of that. The band played the songs from the album exactly in order. My favorite songs that they played from it though were “Some Kind of Hate,” “Last Caress,” “Hybrid Moments,” “We Are 138,” “Attitude,” “Hollywood Babylon,” and of course “Bullet.” I have to say that the band played really great renditions of each song on the album.

So my ticket said that the Misfits would play all of Static Age and “best of.” At least at this show (I’m not sure about the other two nights) “best of” was really the best songs from American Psycho, which to me was awesome. For a post-Danzig Misfits album, I personally think that album is fantastic. They played songs like the title track, “Speak of the Devil,” “From Hell They Came,” and my favorite track off that album “Don’t Open Til Doomsday.” It rocked! And for the very last song, they played the band’s classic tune “Halloween,” which was the perfect way end the show.

This show really reinforced the notion that Jerry Only has gotten a lot better as the lead vocalist (not to mention his performance of “Science Fiction/Double Feature” on the Descending Angel single.) Eric Arce absolutely killed it on drums. And to his credit, Jerry Only’s son was great on guitar and backing vocals. He had mastered all of the songs on the setlist. He played all of the songs that called for pure down strokes with out a problem and his singing was pretty good as well. At times I felt he was a little timid when it came to interacting with the crowd, but that should change with time. Plus, his father was doing plenty of that through out the performance. And for those of you who are wondering, I have been to sell out shows at this venue and this show seemed like it was indeed sold out or damn well near it. The crowd was really into the performance, too. There was plenty of mosh and circle pits, people mouthing the words to each song, and fists being pumped into the air.

There was no encore or anything like that, but what happened next pretty cool. Jerry and his son gave out all four of the setlists that were taped on stage to four lucky audience members. Before Jerry’s son gave away the last setlist he and his father both signed it. And whom did he give to? Yours truly. That was very cool of him and it definitely was a highlight of the night for me.

Now this is where I’ll leave this part of the review to the reader. Once I had folded up the setlist I got out of the pit. Jerry Only was still on stage and began autographing just about anything the audience could hand for at least 20 minutes by my count. I had split feelings about this. What do you think? Was it a way for Jerry to genuinely thank the fans the that showed up that night? Or was he just stroking his ego? Both perhaps? He seemed genuinely appreciative to me or could I just be naive in this case?

Once Jerry finally left the stage and the show was officially over, I quickly ran to the merch booth to see what they were selling. Now I’m sure all you Misfits purists will cringe at this, but the one thing that I noticed that was a bit off (to say the least), was that they were selling specially made T-shirts (even Jerry wore one) and posters just for that show. The graphic on both was the Static Age album art, but they replaced faces on the original cover, with the faces of newest band members. That left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. I ended up not buying anything just because I didn’t see anything worthwhile and I was more than happy with the signed setlist I had received.

Even though there was a major and unannounced line up change and there was some questionable merch at this show I had really great time. The performance was a lot of fun to watch. I got to hear my favorite Misfits songs played live by some form of the band. I think the trick was that I just have different expectations and standards for shows where the band’s line up has changed significantly. I had to do the same thing when I saw the Dead Kennedys in late January this year. No Jello in the Dead Kennedys? No Danzig, Doyle, or even Dez now in the Misfits? It’s a sad reality, but I love the songs both bands have written and I wanted to be there to hear their songs played live instead of watching some old video on YouTube. I wanted to be there. I wanted to hear and see these songs performed for myself and most importantly have a good time. And I’m happy to report that overall I did have a good time at this show.

-A sincere fuck you to the guy I stood behind for the most of the show who used the barricade to leverage himself to violently bash into whoever was in back of him every time someone from the pit pushed people into him. Seriously dude, have you been to punk show before? You’re an asshole. Go fuck yourself.

-You can see the full setlist, a few photos, and a brief video of the show on the Punknews.org Instagram.