May 21, 2018 | by Jocelyn Hoppa [no cellphones, no photos: this is my shitty merch shirt]
Everything that could be bad about this show was a known beforehand. The lofty ticket price, the long drive from South Jersey, the expensive beer and other concessions, the expensive everything really (that $40 parking was a kick in the shins), and the absolutely horrid, searing sound always found at arena shows. One unanticipated detail was that, upon entering the arena, we had to individually hand our cellphones over to be locked away in a foam case we could then carry around, only granted access to use it once again if leaving or if stepping into a designated cellphone use area. At least one person burned their case off with a lighter and left it on the floor of a men’s bathroom.
Even with all the knowns of this type of show, when is a person EVER going to be amongst close to 20,000 Misfits fans in one place? Who even knew that would be possible 20 or 30 years ago? And that may have been the most awe-striking aspect of this show. As my counterpart said, it felt like we were seeing KISS, not the Misfits, for all the bigness of the night. Just one look around the venue as they took to the stage was a sight to behold.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. The show started with Harley Flanegan of Cro-Mags (this I did not see). We made for our seats around the start of reigning NYC hardcore band Murphy’s Law, who likely put on the most punk rock show of the night, even if two-thirds of show attendees were still out by concessions throwing booze, hotdogs, and whatever else down their gullets. The most defining moment came when lead singer Jimmy Gestapo rescued a young and small budding punk rocker from being “smushed” at the front of the audience. He propped him up on a monitor and let him hang there for the rest of show, and invited him up on stage for the end to sing their closing song, the Fleetwood Mac cover “Someone’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonite.” Honestly, that didn’t seem too far from the truth. The band, paying homage to the great state of New Jersey, also played a “Born to Run” intro before launching into “Cavity Creeps.” (Full setlist here.)
Next up was Suicidal Tendencies, who played a solid set. Aside from the lead singer Mike Muir's long-winded preaching in between songs, they showcased their meld of skate punk and thrash metal to great effect. Favorite moments were hearing “War Inside My Head” (My neck is still sore from shaking out the war inside my own) and — when their backdrop was pulled down — not mistaking the symbol for Monster energy drink, which boasts a “lifestyle in a can.” For all the punk rock, belief in self, and fighting for personal freedoms they spewed forth, it was weird to see the band saddled up with product... and one studies have shown can cause a higher prevalence of suicidal tendency, especially when consumed with alcohol. (Full set list here.)
On to the main event: The “original” Misfits, with Glenn Danzig, Doyle Von Frankenstein, and Jerry Only (Dave Lombardo was on drums, and Acey Slade on rhythm guitar). By this point, the place was filled to the rafters. Two giant pumpkins flanked the stage, and there were rows of speakers featuring the classic Misfits skull logo. There was also a video screen behind the band that kept flashing the band name, just in case anyone was too wasted to remember where they were. Danzig kicked off the set by proclaiming, “Turn on the pumpkins,” and with that they launched into “Death Comes Ripping.” The fucking godawful sound in this place truly did affect the experience of hearing these songs live. Just blistering, unending pain in the ear (even with balled-up napkin pieces stuffed in there). Danzig (a little too modest these days to go shirtless and obviously laboring breath between songs), seemed to come in soft on the songs (but that could have been the fact that the sounds blasting from their speakers were ricocheting off all the hard angles and edges of the arena, never absorbed or fully forming again by the time they made their way out to where the audience was seated). For all of the band’s delicious lo-fi qualities on recording, man, it just didn’t work in this giant palladium. That being said — because, well, fucking physics — people on the floor probably had a much better aural experience.
For all of the bad points, we were there watching the MISFITS and hearing selections from their irrefutable catalog. “20 Eyes” (which bled right into “Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?”) is still stuck in my head. There was the omission of “We are 138,” which likely bummed out some folks, but really, from start to finish, if you’re a fan, you knew all of the songs. And that was another thing: Danzig didn’t even actually have to sing all that great, because seemingly the entirety of the 19,500 people the Prudential Center can pack in for a concert was singing right along. “Devilock,” “Where Eagles Dare,” “Earth A.D.,” “Horror Business”… all without the glow of cellphone screens blocking one's view.
I must admit, I got out of there a bit early before they finished their set. After a few trips to the bathroom and seeing how trashed everyone was, anxiety at the thought of filing out of that place with the masses got the best of me. (I’ve been known to flee in overly crowded, uncontained situations.) Plus, there was the two-hour drive home. Nonetheless, for all the good, the bad, and the ugly of a giant arena show, I was there and I remembered it. OoooOHHHoohhhhOOHHHH!
Death Comes Ripping
I Turned Into a Martian
Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?
Where Eagles Dare
Teenagers From Mars
Who Killed Marilyn
Die, Die My Darling
Night of the Living Dead
Some Kinda Hate
All Hell Breaks Loose