The Original Misfits Destroy Allstate Arena
By Oscar De Leon
When it was announced that the Misfits would do two reunion shows at Riot Fest Denver and Riot Fest Chicago, fans were stoked. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Never in a punk’s wildest dreams would Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only and Doyle take the stage together again. Over a year after the Riot Fest shows, other shows were announced in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for December 2017. Danzig has stated that in order to keep these reunion shows special, they would not tour. Just a show here and there every once in a while. Way back in September 2018, it was announced that the original lineup would come back to Chicago for a show at Allstate Arena. Immediately I bought my tickets and counted down the days to this historic show.
The only thing to bring down my morale as I camped outside the arena was the most disgusting snow you could get in April. The Midwest’s unpredictable weather chose the most inconvenient day to snow. It was roughly 1:00 PM when I arrived at Allstate Arena. There was a merchandise stand outside selling wallets, hats, shirts, and autographed posters. Next to that was a tent with two people in it. To my surprise, nobody was lined up to get a good spot in the pit. I waited around for a little over an hour when I decided to make my way to Target and get some new socks, my shoes drenched from all the slushy snow and puddles. I made my way back out at 4:00 PM, two and a half hours to doors, and a small line began to form. As time passed, the weather got worse. The people in line, many from all over the country, were allowed to wait in the arena 15 minutes before doors. At 6:30 PM, doors opened and eager fans rushed to get their wrists bands and take their place in the pit. I was extremely fortunate to have claimed a spot directly on the railing. All the pain and cold was over. I had made it. All I had to do was make it through three openers and then I’d be witnessing history.
The biggest upset was the security. They were super strict about the pit: no moshing or crowd surfing. They were even more strict on phone usage. No phone usage was tolerated, especially for photo or video. This did not stop everybody, but it did bring morale down somewhat.
Power Trip was the first opener. Metalheads should not sleep on this band, one as badass as Slayer fused with punk elements. They are super fast, super clean, and super aggressive. Their set opened with “Soul Sacrifice.” The crowd began headbanging and frontman Riley Gale began jumping around and encouraging the crowd to go crazy. All the band members except the drummer have super long hair which only added to the dramatic effect of their badass headbanging. The songs were deafening and did not let up for their 30-minute set.
I was directly in front of bassist Chris Whetzel and rhythm guitarist Nick Stewart. Being in the front row of an arena concert is a totally different feel from section seating. The show felt super intimate, almost like a small concert hall, despite the grand stage. The no moshing rule really made things tough in the pit, but the show was still super strong. During the breakdown of their song “Crucifixation,” Gale commanded the audience to “Bang your fucking heads!” This was one of the show’s highlights. It looked awesome to see a crowd of people headbanging with the band. Power Trip played a new song called “Hornet’s Nest,” then closed with “Manifest Decimation.” Each riff they played was delivered with max energy and intensity. Power Trip served as a great precursor for the night.
Roughly 20 minutes later, Venom Inc. took the stage. Opening strong with “Metal We Bleed,” the audience was definitely much more interested in this band. Guitarist Jeff “Mantas” Dunn came out wearing a bandana and black leather jacket, walking around stage with such badass swagger. Bassist and singer Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan delivered each lyric with a terrifying growl that hit the audience hard. This band upped the intensity and heaviness of Power Trip. For many songs, Mantas was able to play riffs with one hand while pointing at and encouraging the crowd. This only added to the heaviness of the show. It was really unfortunate to have Mantas command us to do a wall of death and not be able to because of security. Regardless, they closed out the show with “Black Metal” and “Countess Bathory.” Demolition Man had the audience scream the lyrics to the choruses. With every song in their seven-song set, they got progressively louder and more aggressive. They closed out strong. There was only one more opener until the Misfits. By then, I was exhausted, nauseated, and starving. But this is not how the crowd around me felt.
About 20 minutes later, legendary punk rocker Lee Ving comes out and leads Fear into the first song. Pretty soon, people were getting kicked out for moshing and crowd surfing. These punk rockers got the crowd going. The crowd finally said, “Screw it.” What a punk world. It’s safe to assume that Lee Ving really does not care what people think about him or his music. This show was definitely not for the faint of heart or a PC crowd. Before playing “Honor and Obey,” Ving tells the audience to say these words to your spouse if you’re fighting. The first lines go as follows: “Get up and make my fucking breakfast you lazy bitch! Yea, you’re my wife now / Don’t start whining and giving me shit.” Fear’s music is very fast paced and pessimistic. The crowd came together and sang “I Love Livin’ In the City” at the top of their lungs. All the energy let out during this set does not compare to what followed.
At 10:15 PM, the lights went out and the audience screamed. People in the pit were losing their minds. None of us could believe we were about to witness history. A deep haunting voice was heard saying, “I will eat you” as the titantron began to reveal the letters “M-I-S-F-I-T-S.” Each of these tiny build-up moments added so much excitement and energy to the crowd. The giant pumpkins on stage lit up along with two giant fiend skulls. Drummer Dave Lombardo and guitarist Acey Slade take their spot. Right after, Jerry Only comes out with the classic devilock hairstyle and badass bass guitar. He slid across the stage as Doyle stomped out on stage like the monster he truly is. The band began to play the intro to “Death Comes Ripping” as the one and only Glenn Danzig walked out on stage. In his signature belt buckle and all black outfit, the song kicked in and everyone pushed towards the stage. A rush of adrenaline surged through my body as people around me were headbanging and moshing. All the nausea and sickness I felt before disappeared. It was time to witness history.
No matter how fast each song was played or how fast Danzig sang, the audience was always on point with the lyrics. One could tell how happy Danzig was to hear a stadium full of punks shouting the lyrics word for word. To the crowd, it did not matter what song was played during the setlist. In the eyes of the crowd, every song was their greatest hit. They never let up moshing and singing. The band continued with “20 Eyes” and “I Turned Into a Martian.” I will never forget locking eyes with Glenn Danzig during “20 Eyes” and getting to sing a couple of lines with him. It truly felt like an intimate show in such a giant arena.
The fourth song of the night was “Where Eagles Dare.” This has one of the most iconic Misfits choruses. Getting to scream “I ain’t no goddamn son of a bitch! You better think about it baby” in an arena filled with thousands while Danzig held out the microphone to the audience is a memory I will never forget. In between songs, Danzig took many moments to regain his energy. He would pant aggressively after each song. During these moments, the band would discuss which song to play next and occasionally Only and Doyle would acknowledge audience members in the front row. Danzig talked about how fun the Chicago Riot Fest show was and promised to play songs that the band didn’t get a chance to play at that show. This was followed by “Some Kinda Hate.” Danzig is a huge fan of audience participation. During the next song “Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?” he had the audience scream the lyrics right before the second half of the song. He said, “Let me hear you do it.” This put the biggest smile on his face.
“Vampira,” “All Hell Breaks Loose,” and “Teenagers From Mars” followed. It was starting to get extremely hot as more and more people tried to make their way to the front and crowd surfers were continuously getting kicked out, not even mad as they left, high fiving people in the front row. “Children In Heat,” which wasn’t played at Riot Fest, was a treat for fans, especially for the lyrics “I see them burning / They all changed their names to Chicago.” After this, Danzig asked us, “What do you guys wanna hear?” So many names of songs were thrown in the air, and even some jokesters were naming solo Danzig songs. From this moment on, in between songs, myself and others would scream, “Play ‘Bullet.’” They followed up with “London Dungeon.”
Jerry Only’s stage presence is some of the best I have ever seen. He has such a crazy swagger and knows how to bring the energy. After finishing a song, he ripped his strings, broke his bass over his knee and threw the bottom half to the person next to me. He couldn’t catch it, but instead of moping, he was in shock and simply said, “Jerry Only just threw his bass at me.” I was equally geeking out throughout their entire set. I would try desperately to catch whatever was thrown into the crowd. I would lose my mind whenever my favorites such as “Horror Business” and “Who Killed Marilyn” were played. I would especially lose it when Only, Danzig or Doyle would point at me or in my general direction.
During the song “Green Hell,” much of the song was vamped so Danzig could catch his breath before screaming ultra-fast lyrics. Part of what makes Misfits songs great are the easy-to-remember lyrics and iconic chants. During “Halloween,” which Danzig said he wishes could be every day of the year, the audience screamed the single-worded chorus at deafening levels. Earplugs couldn’t save me. A crowd favorite was the following song, “Astro Zombies.” The band was greeted with even louder cheers as they sang along to this sci-fi themed classic. Here was another moment I got to sing with Danzig. It’s intimate moments like these that make a show and a band special.
When introducing the next song, “Skulls,” Danzig had some interesting words about modern society, to say the least. He asked the crowd if we wanted to hear a song about chopping off little girl’s heads, which of course they did. He followed up with, “That’s the great thing about punk rock. You can piss all over everything and if someone complains about it you can just say, ‘Fuck you, motherfucker.’” Naturally, this was met with tremendous applause.
Danzig kept laughing to himself as he introduced “Die, Die My Darling.” He told the crowd, “Here’s another sweet love song. I guess you can call this one a bad breakup song.” After this, Doyle played a chord with no context, but everyone in the audience knew what was coming. Even Danzig acknowledged this. Soon after, an arena full of crazy punks sang, “I got something to say, I killed your baby today and it doesn’t matter much to me as long as it’s dead.” The main set closed with “Last Caress” before their encore.
Before coming out for the encore, Jerry Only told the audience how great we were. The encore continued with “Night of the Living Dead” and “Hybrid Moments.” This was one of the moments I’d been waiting for. Hearing Danzig say, “This is called ‘Bullet’” filled me with so much adrenaline. That energy was shared by everyone else as they began pushing again towards the barricade. The audience sang every single violent word in this JFK-obsessed song.
“She” and “Attitude” followed. Their set list had to be cut short because of the Allstate Arena curfew. Danzig said that they could only play one more song because they were getting kicked out. Audience members screamed, “Play ‘Angelfuck,’” or “Play ‘Hatebreeders.’” Danzig told us that we’d like the song they were about to play. He was right. He gave out one last devilish chuckle before Doyle played the signature chord to introduce “We Are 138.” People were punching and shoving and kicking as they let loose their final shreds of energy to go crazy. This is the Misfits anthem and an incredible way to end the show. Doyle and Slade powered through the final chords and Lombardo destroyed the drum set. Danzig furiously screamed the final lyrics as Only destroyed his bass and ripped off his jacket.
The Misfits played 29 songs that night. Each song felt like their greatest hit. No matter what was played that night, it was going to be a satisfying and crazy show. Who knows if this opportunity will ever come again after their Los Angeles reunion show in June. Everyone in that crowd lived that show like it was the only time it was going to happen. The Misfits have yet again proved their legendary status.