One of my favorite new bands of 2011 was Death on the Radio, so it seems only fitting that I should spend New Years Eve covering their last show of 2011. Wait. Does it make sense to say that this was DotR's last show of 2011, but that they were also the first band of 2012? I sure fucking hope so because that's exactly how it happened.
Rewinding a bit to get to that... The first band to take stage was Fangs on Fur. Their logo kind of looks like an exploded ice cream cone w/ the 'don't tread one me' snake coil thing at the bottom of the cone. This band would seem as much at home on a punk venue as inside a 16th century shrine box, all four are solid performers and put on a very visual performance, sounding a bit like the Adolescents channeling Dead Can Dance.
The Gears were up next. Axxel G Reese and Kidd Spike from the original Rockin at Ground Zero lineup seem to have physically melded into their car club names and put on a high energy performance complete with Axxel flailing into the crowd, hiding his head in in shirt, and managing a truly inspired snarl directed somewhere between the the tops of the audience's heads and the ceiling throughout the duration of their set.
The Mau Maus are just amazing and through their formation in the late 1970s have had everyone from Nicky Beat to Rikk Agnew in the band. The current Mau Maus line up includes: Scott Franklin on bass, Michael Livingston on guitar, Paul Black on drums, and of course, Rick Wilder on vocals. Rick Wilder is one of my all time favorite performers and I would def recommend checking these dudes out; their new lineup is solid, they put on a great show, and played all their classics: Doomsdaze, DOA, Sex & the Single Sniper, Laughtrack, Never Talk to Strangers, Family Jewels, Joyride, Sex Girls, Rectum of Nefertiti, All Fall Down, Warbaby, and came back out with Faker and Psychotic for a double encore.
Death on the Radio took stage about a half hour after midnight and it wasn't until they were actually on the stage that I began to realize the complete ingenuity of this bill. Sandwiching two classic first wave LA punk bands betwixt two darker sounding, female fronted amalgams of proto-punk and death rock. What a fucking brilliant way to ring in 2012. I have been considering riot-folk/folk-punk to be 4th wave, a wave that is by no means finished growing and developing, or "over." I just happened to catalog it that way lineage-wise. So, in my mind at least we are now coming up on a 5th wave. What will it sound like? Given the current political, ecological, and social climate... Dark, very dark. It's up to each generation of artists to decide how exactly to channel all the conflicting spirits of their times and make something meaningful out of them. Death on the Radio definitely don't take these tasks lightly. Their NYE performance was absolutely stunning. No matter what their current lineup, they seem to exhaust every bit of energy in their bodies for every performance such that when their set nears it's end and front-woman, Mary Powers collapses into an agonized heap on the stage, we know for certain that it is genuine. This was the first time I had seen them play with this particular lineup and couldn't help but notice the powerful dynamic at work between bassist, Evol Powers and Mary. Well, I had noticed it before, it's hard to miss, though this particular evening I observed this dynamic in a more concrete manner, as a foundation to Death on the Radio's highly individualized style of bass driven dark-wave-tribal-horror-punk. Needless to say, their set was fan-fucking-tasking and I'm stoked to hear/see a bunch more from them in the coming year. If you haven't checked out DotR yet, I would recommend it. They have a residency at the Redwood this Feb. and Mary Powers has also lending her epic vocal capacity to the all female Black Sabbath cover band, Black Sabbitch.
I had a chance to catch up with the entire band post show in regards to line-up changes, inspirations & influences, and the future of Death on the Radio.