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Ventura Theatre; Ventura, CA; 01/22/00

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

You know your evening is off to a bad start when one of the bands you so desperately want to see perform live cancels their gig. When you approach the theater entrance and there's a sign taped to the box office window that reads:

"Fear Cancelled. Drummer Broke His Foot."

Immediately, my evening went from one of high anticipation ("Really? The Misfits and Fear?!") to one of minor diversion. I'm a big Misfits fan but I'm a big Fear fan, too. But, as Steven Wright says, you can't have everything - where would you put it?

So we got into the loooong line at the Ventura Theater and waited our way to the front door. While we waited, Indecision played inside. They sounded pretty good but then, anybody would sound pretty good when you can only hear them through fifty tons of concrete wall. Finally (just as Indecision was leaving the stage) we reached the front door and entered the theater.

It was apparent immediately who everyone was here to see. The Goth world had come out to see the Misfits. Their painted faces, their flowing black clothes, their garish eye makeup. If I saw the Misfits logo once that evening, I must've seen it three thousand times.

But, first, there was Missing 23rd, a local California punk band that was filling in for Fear. While they were no Lee Ving and company, Missing 23rd was pretty cool. A charismatic quartet of rockers who played Rancid-type punk with passion and pure raw power. And they were obviously thrilled to be opening for The Misfits. Who wouldn't be?

Finally, The Misfits took the stage and the crowd couldn't have been happier. Squeezed up against the stage like cattle to a feeding trough, the crowd moshed, crowd-surfed and pogoed furiously while the legendary Misfits powered through their set.

I'll say this for The Misfits: This band doesn't just come out onto stage and go through the motions. The Misfits give 150%! The more the crowd thrashed, the more The Misfits fed off their energy, ripping through songs both old and new with a fury and a sheer thunderous power that was easily as much physical as it was sonic. Plus, the image of these four comic-book type heroes blasting out raw rock'n'roll was nearly a religious event.

Unfortunately, the music mix was so loud and so muddy that it was all but destroyed by the iffy acoustics of the Ventura Theater. The songs didn't sound like songs. Instead, they sounded more like three- or four-minute bits of excruciatingly loud sound that reverberated through the Theater in so many different directions that it was impossible to separate the sound of vocals, bass, guitar and even drums. I've heard loud bands play the Ventura Theater and sound great (Motorhead comes to mind) but, for some reason, the Misfits didn't.

I think the band started off with songs from their killer new CD, "Famous Monsters," including "Kong at the Gates," "The Forbidden Zone," "Lost In Space," "Dust to Dust" and "Crawling Eye." But I could be wrong. The mix was truly that bad.

The audience didn't seem to care. They flailed and floundered and pogoed and pushed and moshed and mashed to their heart's content. This was The Misfits, dammit, and they weren't about to let the moment go waste.

Hell, I was caught up in the moment, too. And I'll go see the Misfits again whenever they blow through Southern California.

I just hope they get the mix right.

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Copyright 2000 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:16 -0400.