Live: Off! at Culture Room, October 23

Categories: Concerts
Photo by Monica McGivern
With Retox and Cerebral Ballzy
Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale
Sunday, October 23, 2011

View a slide show from the concert here.

Better Than: Whatever else you were doing last night.

Last night Off!, a band that has an insane amount of buzz, played in South Florida, and many were absent. Not only was it a hyped band but a hyped band with a "members of" list that reads like a punk-rock museum, and many folks missed out.

Opening for Off! was Retox, a grindcore group with ex or current members of the Locust and a few other notable bands. Frontman Justin Pearson was pretty obviously upset about the lack of appreciation for his band's brand of screachy grind and asked at one point if the audience was as bored as the band. Though this style was de rigueur a few years ago, it was a bit lost on the crowd of people filing in with their freshly purchased Off! T-shirts draped over their shoulders. Steven McDonald lurked in the back of the club during their set and gave a "hoot" when they were finished. His was the only one.
Photo by Monica McGivern
Following Retox was a fine example of when bad names happen to good bands, Cerebral Ballzy. The skate punks from Brooklyn played an awesome set of fun-loving punk about "pizza, girls, skate boarding, cheeseburgers" and were very well-received by the now slightly larger crowd. The singer caught loogies in his mouth and was visibly drunk as he yelled his way through the band's breakneck tempos. Ballzy delivered pretty much everything you'd want in a fun punk-rock band. They have releases being distributed via the Adult Swim webstore, so chances are you've heard one of their tunes at some point during that programming block.
Photo by Monica McGivern

Off! got things moving at 10 p.m., and the crowd erupted forth as the band struck up the song "Black Thoughts." The band is unbelievably energetic, and the band's volume bares the same anger the lyrics express. It was hard to tell if guitarist Dimitri Coats (of Burning Brides) was banging his head or if it was being forced down by the air pressure that his full stack was blowing out. Next year, the band will probably change its name to What!?, but I feel this is the kind of power you should want from a punk-rock band.

By song three, the audience was properly stirred up, and people skanked and circle-pitted through the far too spacious Culture Room. Keith Morris exhibited a passion for his art that most people half his age can't compete with. His eyes rolled back in his head before he was compelled to release his blurts and barks of social commentary. Morris introduced his tribute to lost friend and the Gun Club founder Jeffrey Lee Pierce with a somewhat somber speech, only to be interrupted by an overexcited fan shouting something about how thankful he was to not be at a Misfits show. Morris handled the interruption with the kind of patience only 30 years in punk rock can teach and continued with his dedication to his "best friend and younger brother." 

Mario Rubacalba's churning drums counted off personal favorite of the night "Crawl," which flowed into "Rat Trap." The night was punctuated with Morris' small speeches about what the songs were about and about the world in general. Notorious for being a man with a lot to say (see our Q&A with him here), there was a small back story to every cluster of songs including a small speech on "dipshits" and the civil rights movement.

The band ended the show with "Panic Attack," and following a chant of Off! Off! Off!, it returned for an encore. As Morris explained, the bands in Hermosa at the Church only knew about 16 songs each, so rather than play a cover or an unreleased number, Off! did what it would've done in the early '80s... started the set over again! 

True to punk-rock form, the band members played their asses off to the people who did show up. We caught up with bassist Steven McDonald at Danny's Pizza before Cerebral Ballzy played, and he seemed disappointed with the turnout, describing the show as potentially "humbling." While Steven insinuated that it may have to do with economic times, we have to disagree. A band with this pedigree could have charged quite a bit more than it did, and the truth of the matter is that when you equate the cost of this ticket to beers downtown, you don't have much of an argument. 

Critics Notebook:

Personal bias: I'm a big Black Flag fan, but I like Off! better than the Circle Jerks. 

From the stage: Keith Morris reprimanded a fan who was punching people in the back in a most patient manner, telling the fan to "be nice -- you could make some friends here." 

Random detail: It's been a while since I've been to a show at the Culture Room, but the place was playing the same Iggy Pop live video between bands that I saw last time. Is that the only DVD it has?

Best Hairstyles of the Night:
Photo by Monica McGivern

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Location Info


Culture Room

3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Category: Music

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Monica McGivern
Monica McGivern

I wonder which of the two they'll select to play at the Hanson concert coming up....? I'm also curious as to whose decision it is to make that call.

Jose Flores
Jose Flores

"they were playing the same Iggy Pop live video between bands that I saw last time. Is that the only DVD they have?" Ha! They played that video at the Supersuckers/Rev. Horton Heat show, also. They also played a GBH video, so they must own two DVDs!

Jose Flores
Jose Flores

maybe the sound guy brings the Caselogic with their DVD collection to the bands as they load in; here are your choices: Iggy Pop, Prince, GBH or Mr. Wizard.

Reed Fischer
Reed Fischer

They definitely have a Prince DVD too. I think it depends on the genre of music being performed.

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