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Clad in spiked leather body armor and the dreaded Devilock nailed into bisection, standing between a pile of skulls and a glowing altar to madness, wielding a bass that could rend a mountain, Jerry Only casts a most fearsome visage. For 37 years, the last remaining original Misfit has stayed fast with the look that would inspire legions of doom, punk and metal imitators to come.
Maybe it was the timing of the Misfits’ Dec. 17 show at Ziggy’s, but beneath his abraded howls and ghastly yarns, there was a wink and a nod suggesting he’s offering a bit of macabre merriment mixed in with his refined chaos. At least the decked-out Christmas tree looming behind him, however, may have offered something to that effect.
Nonetheless, there was no doubt that Only and the rest of the Misfits — Black Flag guitarist Dez Cadena (adorned in ghoulish corpse paint) and drummer Eric “Chupacabra” Arce — took great pleasure in the brutal pandemonium on the floor, at least the fiend-on-fiend violence. For the first stanza of their career-spanning, 40-song set, which worked backwards from their most recent material into their once-lost ’97 record Static Age, it was business as usual in the pit. Bodies collided, people got bruised and everyone enjoyed it. At least until venue security got involved.
There was a period between “Curse of the Mummy” and “Horror Business” where it was as if an ejection quote needed to be met. Bodies couldn’t fly out the door fast enough, and offenses ranged from simply falling down in the pit to taking cell phone photos. It started once security oddly began inserting themselves into the punk ritual, creating tensions where there were none with random catch-and-release, and using the scene as a means to get a rage fix.
It usually ended out in the parking lot, in a headlock, with a flurry of drooling obscenities for good measure. A good number of people who came to see the Misfits expected to leave in a decidedly more battered state than in which they arrived. None, however, expected that to come from overzealous bouncers. !