Tiger Army/The Business/Roger Miret and the Disasters - live in Santa Cruz
live show - 2004
The fog lurked over Santa Cruz that Friday night enveloping the surrounding forests and obscuring the typical ocean view. The tips of the trees peeked out from the foggy brew and the faint lights illuminating the boardwalk's Ferris wheel could barely be seen. I could feel the night's stabbing chill pierce all the way to the bone as I made my way through downtown to the Catalyst nightclub. It was noisy and throngs of teenagers were busy gabbing on every street corner. The strumming from hippie's guitars drowned out the pounding of my creepers on the sidewalk. I didn't really know what to expect from this hodgepodge of bands whose only common bond seemed to be the fact that they are on Hellcat/Epitaph. I'd seen some of them before, but not all in one lineup. It should have been called "Punks vs. Psycho" due to the lack of Psychobilly bands but I'd decided a couple of week's before to check it out since the lineup, nevertheless, seemed like fun.
What little promotion there was for this show indicated the typical doors at 8 and show at 9. I didn't want to miss the U.S. Roughnecks so I felt good about arriving 15 minutes before 9. Before I could pay for my ticket a friend of mine walked out and informed me that I'd missed the Roughnecks and that they were awesome. I was upset, but what can you do. I'd seen them twice 11 months prior when they'd opened for the Templars who were in the Bay Area over Memorial day weekend 2003 for a couple of gigs. Still I wanted to see how they'd changed and get an up-to-date live glimpse at their upcoming Hellcat debut.
The club was packed with kids as all-ages shows in Santa Cruz almost always are. There was a good mix of punks, skins and a few psychos. The bad hair was in full effect as I saw one awful mohawk after another block the stage light. Don't get me wrong I like a good mohawk, but at least put some effort into it. The show was mostly dominated by older adolescents who didn't seem to subscribe to any stereotypical subculture along with their cookie-cutter looking girlfriends in their hooded sweatshirts. F-Minus warmed up the crowd with their rabid, fast hardcore which I must admit I've never been into. It was, however, different than what I usually listen to and diversity is a good thing so I watched and listened. They reminded me a lot of Strike Anywhere who I'd seen several months before. The kids seemed to really like them.
Next up was Roger Miret and the Disasters who I'd been looking forward to seeing. Their streetpunk sound is represented very well in a live venue and I took a liking to Roger Miret's vocals. You can definitely tell that Roger Miret has a long history of playing live as he was very well versed on working the crowd and seemed at complete ease. Unbeknownst to me it was their first time on the West Coast. Songs they played include Run Johnny Run, Screw You, Smash It Up, Punch The Clock, Give 'Em The Boot etc. etc. Toward the end of the set they invited Mickey Fitz from the Business up on stage to sing on their Cocksparrer cover N.Y. Belongs To Me. My mind wandered back a couple of years to Cocksparrer's first and only four date US tour. At this point I thought it was the end of their set until the Roughnecks came on stage and traded places with all of the Disaster's band members. Roger Miret and Mikey from the Roughnecks then set the crowd on fire with a cover of Agnostic Front's "Crucified" with the rest of the Roughnecks on the strings, drums and backup vocals.
The Business were the final opening band. Now I've seen the Business on a semi-regular basis for the last 12 years and they have never failed to disappoint. I have seen them probably 10 times and each time they were enjoyable. During the aforementioned Cocksparrer cover with the Disasters, however, I could tell that Mickey Fitz was really wasted. His slurred speech and stuttered animation was evident and definitely impacted their set. Steve Whale, on the otherhand, played his heart out like always and his singing alone made up for Mickey's inebriation. The crowd didn't seem to know their music too well but they seemed very well received, The only sing-a-long from the crowd seemed to be the ever-popular "Harry May". Blind Justice, Hardcore Hooligan, Smash the Discos, Spirit of the Street, Suburban Rebels, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth were some of the other songs the Business played.
Tiger Army was last and Epitaph/Hellcat's decision to headline them on this tour was evident. Everything about their performance screamed months of hard work. Their sound was polished and tight and Fred Hell's drumming was simply amazing even when you don't take into account what he's been through in the past. As soon as the lights went dim the hypnotic bass-slapping began which transformed the crowd into a violent, chaotic force. On their studio recordings there is no doubt that Tiger Army sounds incredible and not in an over-produced or over-engineered sort of way. However live is really where the range of Nick 13's vocals and guitar and the thump of that bass really shine. The bass was deep and perfect, the reverb on the guitar precise and twangy where appropriate. They ripped through their set praising Santa Cruz for their gratitude and commenting on the cute women in between songs. Outlaw Heart was the only slow song that was played and this was the first time I'd heard it live. Other songs played include Towards Destiny, Power Of Moonlight, True Romance, Valley Of Dreams, Jungle Cat , When Night Comes Down, Cupid's Victim, Ghostfire, Nocturnal, Never Die, Under Saturn's Shadow, F.T.W., Fog Surrounds and Devil Girl. Missing were Last Night and In the Orchard which I've been wanting to hear. When they played Power of Moonlite it sounded like something was missing and I realized that I'm used to the slide guitar on the studio version. It still sounded great though and they gave the crowd a lot of material to bite into. Interestingly the only new song they played was the recently released as an MP3 "Ghostfire" off of III: Ghost Tigers Rise. I wonder why there was a lack of new material. What was there was truly excellent. After their set they came back out and played the obligatory encore with Incorporeal followed by the last song of the evening, Annabel Lee.
The second installment of the Punks vs. Psychos tour was definitely a good time and worth checking out, but could have really used another Psychobilly band on the bill. If Nekromantix or even the Horrorpops were playing there is no doubt that this show would have been mind-blowing. For all you folks who are actually getting Nekromantix or the Horrorpops on the bill you have no excuse not to go when this hits your town. This was a lot of entertainment for $14 and well worth my time.