The renowned Los Angeles punk band The Weirdos played Gallagher’s Pub in Huntington Beach on Saturday with the same tenacity as their first gig in the area 40 years ago at The Golden Bear.
San Clemente’s The Pegs greeted everyone with an old-school punk attitude: poking fun at each other between songs, keeping the energy high, all the while wearing their instruments low. Their old school sound made it hard to believe they were established in 2002, as their vibe was congruent to that of the late 1970s and early ‘80s. The punk veterans in the crowd were especially receptive to their music.
Next on the bill were Egrets on Ergot: a high-art Vaudevillian act of the experimental variety, who were hand-picked by the Weirdos to tour across the western United States for the past three weeks. When the band played “Sister Please,” frontman Atom Brooks, played the saxophone in a hauntingly unparalleled fusion of free jazz and no-wave.
Listeners were teleported into a psychedelic wonderland during their new single “Daisy”, which is best described as the musical equivalent to a mixed-media piece by Picasso. Brooks banged on a keg in syncopation to a recording of crying babies as the band’s guitarist, Crow Jane, screamed her words and musings from the center of the crowd: “Are we dying now?” she protested while Matt Sherin’s incredible drumming and Stormy Daniel’s bass lines kept the tribal rhythm in sync.
One man yelled out, “don’t take the brown acid!” and another could be heard saying “I don’t even know what I am listening to. This shit is weird! I love it!” In the front of the crowd stood Claire Killick, a 23-year-old art history student clad in a maroon beret and ‘80s attire. She’s seen the Egrets perform so many times she’s lost count, but it was her first time seeing the Weirdos. “I noticed the crowd (at this show) had a lot of older, original punks who were equally supportive of the Egrets as they were the Weirdos, which was rad,” she said. Judging from the remarks uttered throughout the crowd, one could assume that for many in attendance, this was their first time experiencing an Egrets On Ergot show.
Egrets On Ergot have garnered the respect and support of legends such a Paul Rossler, Rick Agnew, Gitane Damone, to name a few, and have inadvertently become the ones to carry the torch as the new lords of the Los Angeles underground punk scene. While closing out their set, Brooks paid homage by welcoming the Weirdos to the stage and delineating them as “first wave Los Angeles punk,” adding, “in case anyone didn’t know.”
The founding brothers of The Weirdos, John and Dix Denney, took to the stage, Dix sporting pants made from newspaper clippings that he made himself, and John in a black version of Alex’s A Clockwork Orange get-up.
The Weirdos kicked off their spectacular set with the punk anthem, “We Got the Neutron Bomb” and people of all ages sang along. A mosh pit erupted on the floor and two merch tables fell victim to its wrath while they played many crowd favorites from the “Weird World, Vol. 1” compilation. They closed the evening with “Solitary Confinement.” While Crow Jane gleefully soaked up the some of the last moments of their tour from the pit, Brooks avoided the pandemonium by standing on a chair to the side and getting the best view of a song that holds a sentimental value to him. “Ever since I was eighteen years old, ‘Solitary Confinement’ has always replayed in my head consistently throughout the years,” he said.
After the show, Bruce Moreland, who started playing bass in the Weirdos five years ago when Xander Schloss left the band, began reminiscing about when he worked as an MC for the old Masque club in Los Angeles and where his camaraderie began with the Denney brothers. “I love John and Dix. They were probably the first punk band in Los Angeles. I was a huge fan,” he added. According to Moreland, playing bass for the Weirdos is the most liberating of all of his music projects, which include co-founding Wall of Voodoo, playing with Nervous Gender and founding his own band, Ravens Moreland band. He went on to say,“The best part about being a Weirdo is the freedom I get when I’m on stage with them: to just let it fly. I don’t have to hold back and it just feels very free.”
Daniel and Atom said, through this tour experience, they feel as though they’ve bonded for life with the Weirdos. “Playing with The Weirdos was a pleasure. We looked out for each other loading and unloading gear, putting on our punk uniforms, and trying to have a positive attitude even during the least-attended shows,” Daniel said, also noting that some of the tour’s best shows were in San Francisco, Portland and Phoenix. However, according to Daniel, both Egrets on Ergot’s and the Weirdos’ performances at Gallagher’s were unrivaled. “The sound was excellent, there were few errors, and the crowd gave us the necessary energy to play well, especially after a long tour in the back of a van for almost three weeks.”
Egrets on Ergot and the Weirdos concluded their tour with one last show at the Echo in Los Angeles for their closest friends at home on Sunday.
Words by: Audrey Kemp
Photos by: Jessica Moncrief