The Metro
by Dave Negative
  the vibrators

Not one, but two O.P.D. patrol cars showed up to take turns circling the venue while keeping a watchful eye on M.D.C. as they unloaded their tour van. Gesturing to the cop/klansman logo on Ron's baseball cap, I wryly suggested "I don't think they like your hat." Shrugging "Truth hurts," he opened his jacket to reveal "DEAD COPS" printed in bold white letters across the front of his black t-shirt before deadpanning "What about this? Better?" How he's managed to avoid being sent back to the pen is anyone's guess.

I had seen the DekOiZ before when they were opening for the UK Subs  on that band's last North American tour and, although they weren't the worst example of nor. Cal. "pins 'n skins" street-core (ie. Resilience, Pressure Point, Monster Squad, etc.) I had ever witnessed, I didn't think they were all that great. This particular performance, regrettably, was no exception. Lead singer Konrad paced the stage growling "Bad Mutha Fucker," "All The Same," "No Honor No Pride," and "Butcher Boy" from A Decoy Life convincingly enough but the songs themselves were just one terrace-style hooligan chant after another set to middling hardcore punk with a "running" psychobilly-tinged bassline here and there. None of which was very impressive. The audience, judging by it's overall lacklustre response, seemed to enjoy them only slightly more than I did. Except for a few heads nodding upfront, a few toes tapping on the sidelines, and a couple skins pushing each other around during their so-so cover of "White Riot" by The Clash everyone else headed for the bar or walked outside for a smoke.

This gig was advertised as Trouble Maker's first with it's "surprise new lineup" that turned out to be a powerhouse combination showcasing ex-Retching Red emigrates Joe "Fucko" (also in Strychnine) and "Crash" Diaz (also in 2nd Class Citizens) on lead guitar and drums, and Oppressed Logic's "Whore-Hey" on rhythm guitar. Following a quick sound check, 6'5" 250+ lbs. vocalist Garrett Garitano (onetime guitarist for early 80's skinhead gang Lockjaw) bellowed himself hoarse over his bandmates' caustic renderings of "Unemployed," "Self Destruct," "Dirty Cop," "Bad Attitude," and "Rough House" off the Fist Impression CD. Their West Coast take on bruising oldschool NYHC sounding like a ferocious mix of Fear meets Agnostic Front with Whore-Hey's PC-baiting jokes (e.g. "How's a woman like a condom? Both spend more time in your wallet than on your dick!") made even more facetious thanks to Fucko's guitar impressions of a sorry trumpet's "wah-wah-WAAAHHH!" after each punch-line. As an encore they brought the house down by covering G.G. Allin & The Scumfucs' "Bite It You Scum" as Garrett threw his mic into the crowd for us to finish the last chorus, grabbed a staple-gun he'd used to put up setlists and went berserk driving one after another into his arms and chest.

Ever since vocalist Dave Dictor reformed M.D.C. with it's original Texas lineup of "Ex-Con Ron" (aka. Ron Posner) (guitar), Mikey Donaldson (founding member of Austin HC malcontents The Offenders and SF alt-blues rockers Sister Double Happiness) (bass), and "Alschvitz" (aka. Al Schultz) (drums) I've tried to catch every show they've played in the Bay Area. And I haven't been let down yet. Furiously pounding away at breakneck speed, their set focused solely on the first self-titled LP - an early 80's hardcore punk/thrash landmark of anarcho-leftist politicizing and sardonic blackhumor on par with Dead Kennedys' In God We Trust, Inc. and Crass's Feeding Of The 5,000, Multi-Death Corporations and Millions Of Dead Children EPs, Hey Cop, If I Had A Face Like Yours, and new songs from Magnus Dominus Corpus ("Destroying The Planet," "Poser Punk," "Founding Fathers," "Sick Of It," "Let's Kill All The Cops," etc.). Ironically enough, considering it's salient anti-violence message, security had to break up a fight in the pit during "Beat Somebody Up" with Dave sternly warning us "Okay, here's how we do things: You wanna push each other around? Fine. BUT NO FIGHTING! If that happens again we stop playing and we're outta here." Aside from that, and being loose to the point of falling apart once or twice into a chaotic mess, they were great.

Unlike most punks my age I've never been what you would call a fan of late 70's British pop/garage-punk stalwarts The Vibrators. Sure, their early records have their moments, but I can name a lot of other groups from that era with the same lightheartedly loopy aesthetic who were considerably better than they ever were - The Buzzcocks for example. Now a three-piece, founding members "Knox" (aka. Ian Carnochan) (vocals/guitar) and Eddie (drums) looked hopelessly washed up as they slogged lethargically through Pure Mania, V2, a smattering of Guilty and Alaska 127, tracks from 2002's Energize ("X-Files," "So Far Down," "3/4 Angelina," "New Brain," "Rock The Kids," etc.), and a cover of the Flaming Groovies' "Shake Some Action" with newcomer punk-a-billy bassist Pete's (formerly of Finnish glam rockers No Direction) tough as nails stage presence and knockout basslines being the only half-way decent things worth mentioning. Even my friend Rach, a Vibrators fan unlike myself for as long as I've known her, was disappointed. Asking me "What happened to these guys?" The rest of the audience, however, cheering, pogoing and shouting requests, didn't seem to care in the least or even notice how bad they were. Especially a conspicuous grindcore crusty wearing rhinestone studded novelty sunglasses who, for some reason, was squealing for them upfront like a pre-teen girl at a Backstreet Boys concert.

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