Take This To Heart Records have released their 2023 Fall Sampler that includes tracks by Pony, Orson Wilds, Snarls, Magazine…
45 Grave / Rezurex Live At The Whisky A Go Go
45 Grave / Rezurex / Darling Dead / The Quits / Dexter Drive
Whisky A Go Go, Hollywood, CA - Friday 13th October 2023
I celebrated my 60th birthday with two of my closest friends by enjoying an evening of gloriously ghoulish grandeur presented by the titans of horror rock, the illustrious 45 Grave. After an early birthday dinner with my mom and a select few significant others, I rushed 47.7 miles (76.7 km), from Rancho Cucamonga to Hollywood just in time to catch Dexter Drive performing the final song of their set. I rushed right to the front of the stage to get a heaping helping of their resounding cover of The Doors’ L.A. Woman. I should have left earlier, because Dexter Drive are a great band that was solid, driving, and heavy. The band’s cover of The Doors’ classic was true to the original, but with enough unique subtleties to make it sound new again. It must have been great for the band members to perform that song on the same stage as The Doors did in 1966.
Next came The Quits, and my notes say: “Grungy, driving, meta-punk with metal leads and interesting tempo changes.” Yes, I take notes while at the shows, and if someone asks why, I tell them there is a test on Monday. I have no idea what I meant by “meta-punk,” but it is apparently a good thing because The Quits are a really good band with some catchy and chunky riffs. They have a great stage presence and a friendly, fun-loving attitude. I thoroughly enjoyed the songs, Lockdown and Madd Dog. Later, I saw the singer coming down the stairs, and I said to him: “I really like your band, The Quilts.” He got the joke and laughed.
Darling Dead was next on the bill and the singer gets extra credit points for the black vinyl pants with goat-head pentagrams on each butt cheek. My notes say: “Thundering, churning, and ominous.” If your band is going to open for 45 Grave, it is good to be ominous. The haunting keyboard that drifted in and out added a nice touch to the hard-goth thing…or is this a horror rock thing? It’s an enjoyable thing no matter what you call it. Vocalist Brandi Kates Mitternacht has a rich and emotive voice, that genuinely gave me the goose-bumps at times, but I did not care much for the screechy-demon-throat thing that made me envision a vampire with a head cold. Other than that, the buzzing eeriness that is Darling Dead was a wonderfully dark time. The song, Flowers From Mars was my favorite. Fun fact: The bassist looks like Gary Numan as a death rocker.
I am tempted to say that Rezurex stole the show, but I do not want the members of 45 Grave to be angry with me, so I will say it was by far the most energetic set I saw that evening. Also, Rezurex plays incredibly adept, high-energy psychobilly, and 45 Grave plays incredibly adept, deeply-moving horror rock, so this is a false, skeletons and vampires comparison. Damn! Rezurex did not create the psychobilly genre, but it clearly owns it. Vocalist and guitarist Manny’s voice is rich, and his half-skull, half-human stage makeup comes across as his true persona, crowned by that glorious, forward-sweeping green mohawk. When you are done reading this, go online and listen to some of the songs I heard this evening like Ghost of You and Dia De Los Muertos and then buy some of this incredible band’s recordings and other merchandise; you will not be disappointed. Rezurex was a galloping, stand-up bass twirling, rockabilly-metal, wah pedal, wonderful time!
As I stood at the front of the stage waiting for 45 Grave to come out, I turned around to gaze upon the many white-faces with black lipstick and I noticed someone who looked strangely familiar. I thought she looked like science-fiction writer Octavia E. Butler, and then I realized it was my former fiance’ from 14 years-ago. Our parting back then was quite painful, and I was overwhelmed with a flood of conflicting emotions and silent awkwardness. I quickly overcame this affliction through breathing meditation and putting my mind back into anticipating 45 Grave’s performance.
The agenda was for the band to play the entire Sleep in Safety album from start to finish, but before that, we were treated to a few introductory numbers consisting of Night of the Demons, Concerned Citizen, Pick Your Poison, Child of Fear, The Plan and “Sleep in Safety,” (ironically, this song is not on the Sleep in Safety album.) During Pick Your Poison I was standing directly up front, with the left side of my head directly into a speaker, so I put my pinkie finger into my ear (as Leonard of The Dickies often does), closed my eyes, and lost myself for a few glorious moments. It was more of a physical sensation than an aural one and I wondered it was anything like a deaf person experiences.
“Forty years!” Dinah Cancer exclaimed. “I didn’t think we would last two! What the fuck?” She smiled. 45 Grave has never sounded better, but the band members pretty much stay in place (other than drummer Tom Coyne, who is always in solid and steady kinetic motion.) That’s okay, because the spirit of this band is not conjured by frenetic thrashing about. It is done via superior musicianship and decades of experience. The audience was always in motion, as everyone was either dancing, swaying, slamming, or making out here and there. Dinah announced the title of each song, just like Poly Styrene would have done. She may not move a lot, but Dinah can still sing and raise goose bumps with her distinctive articulation and friendly-yet-sinister charisma.
The entire dance floor went entirely nuts during “Evil,” with the slam pit going full bore, followed immediately by Partytime, which I mentally dedicated to myself. During the lighthearted instrumental Surf Bat, the slam dancing gave way to a room full of happy people simply dancing their hearts out. Dinah then invited a few friends onstage to join her in throwing out Mardi Gras-like Halloween beads and small trinkets to the crowd as the band played Riboflavin Flavored Non-Carbonated Polyunsaturated Blood. Suddenly the room was filled with black and orange balloons being batted (pun intended) all over the room. The final song of the thoroughly enjoyable set was Black Cross. Bidding us goodnight, Dinah shouted: “Celebrating 40 years! Thank you so very much!”
After the show, I was chatting with Whisky employee Joaquin Shagun, when suddenly, my former fiance’ came running up, gave me a big hug, and said: “Happy birthday!” We exchanged a few kind words, and there was much healing in that moment. Thank you to Carlos Anguiano, cloutmaster of the Whisky A Go Go, for putting me and my two friends on the guest list for my birthday…and thank you dear reader, for sharing my wonderful 60th birthday here on the mighty thepunksite.com, and remember….every day is Halloween!
45 Grave photographs courtesy Cyndee Arroyo with all other live photography by Marcus Solomon