Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Germs! The Adolescents! at the Key Club, 12.28.

At 15, I had a tiny crush on Eli Sammler. Rather, Shane West, the brooding actor who portrayed him on that guilty pleasure of a Friday night soap, Once and Again. Eight years later, I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit this, not because his mysterious gaze actually screamed “headshot material!” or because he was on a weekly drama – in fact, it would get much, much worse with A Walk to Remember – but because this actor would eventually attempt to shake off his work history with a new role fronting the reunited Germs in place of the late Darby Crash, who he portrays in What We Do is Secret. With “You're So Oi!” written on his back in mockery of the leather-and-spike-coated 16-year olds who'd come to shout along, it seemed odd that no one would mock him back for his equally “punk” black nail polish or, hell, his resume.

West mimicked the sloppy vocal styling of Crash surprisingly well, and had a grand time tossing a full meal over the audience (beer, water, Tostitos, cake chunks), but his poses capped off what seemed a giant photo-op of a reunion. Blowing sarcastic kisses and sneering that the fans before him looked “silly” in punk garb, it felt as though West was daring to tease and taunt us, the fans who weren't lucky enough to be fronting a famous punk band. Even Lorna Doom and Pat Smear stood together for a number of photo-friendly moments, and though far more entitled to such than West at this point, the sounds coming from their bass and guitar were nearly unrecognizable, with Doom's bass overpowering the once-clear treble of Smear's guitar, giving their songs a heavy masculinity that wasn't originally there.

What earned greater applause than the Germs themselves was the female fan who got on stage to steal the mic for “Caught in My Eye.” Garnering even greater enthusiasm were the Adolescents, whose set was wasted on a supporting slot – even with their collectively worn appearance and Tony Cadena's need for an inhaler mid-set, the O.C. group was tight, heavy and fierce enough to prompt fights. Unexpected but sweet, also, was how Cadena gave props to security (working their asses off on this night) for keeping crowdsurfers from wrecking the "$30 cords" and "$200, $300 monitors." It was, in fact, their ending with “Kids of the Black Hole” that caused a number of fans to plead for more, of which not much could be heard after the Germs finished up with “Lion's Share.”

P.S. Shane West is slightly redeemed for giving props to L.A. indie thrashers the Mae-Shi, who rocked their opening set and appeared to have as much of a vocal fan base as the Adolescents or the Germs. Not redeemed: the possibly-legal girls in stilettos who shoved their way to the side of the stage so they'd be there waiting when cute ol' Shane walked by.

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