“All right, we are gonna start this again,” T.S.O.L.’s lead singer Jack Grisham bellowed into the microphone. Moments before, Grisham had stopped mid intro to yell at a security guard who had caught a crowd surfer in a headlock, refusing to restart until the fellow punker was set free. After much taunting from the stage and excited shrieks from the mixture of punks, greasers, and old-school surfers in the audience, the kid was released, and some of the O.C.’s oldest punk rockers continued their much practiced and highly anticipated performance.
The night started off with Los Angeles-based Bandpax who, despite an off-putting low energy start, proved themselves to be legit with a collection of surf punk songs that were rough in all of the right places. One could really feel the stripped down, DIY sentiments of the band and their dedication to playing short, hard, and fast.
Despite their more modern, melodic sound, follow-up band The Hollowpoints had the energy and power to ensure they dominated the stage from the moment they set foot on it. Their catchy riffs and party punk sound brought up the excitement (and the drink tabs) to a high crescendo of anticipation before headliners T.S.O.L. even showed their faces.
But as soon as the lights fell on the punk heroes, it was easy to tell that the members (Grisham, Ron Emory, Mike Roche, and Jay O’Brien) were no ordinary guys. They were the guys who could scream obscenities, insults, and even political commentary at an already riled-up crowd and get away with it. They were the guys who could bring a never before created evolution of sound into their music and, in doing so, dominate a whole new era of punk.
The band covered a wide selection from their 30-year-long catalogue, most chosen by audience requests. Among the favorites were the fast-paced “Dance with Me” and, after Grisham instigated a successful bout of political feather ruffling, “Abolish Government/Silent Majority.” And, of course, there was the set-closing “Code Blue,” a practiced final piece that sent the moshers into an uproar of spin-kicking, crowd surfing, and heavy dancing. In T.S.O.L.’s case, time did them no harm; the cool, controlled, and pulse-quickening sound of their selections was one that only truly experienced punkers could produce.