Five thoughts: The Original Misfits (December 28, MGM Grand Garden Arena)

The Misfits had a strict no-photo policy, so you’ll just have to stare at this poster.
Steven Matview

1. The Misfits like their mascot almost as much as their fans do. At any given time I counted at least 25 Crimson Ghost skulls faces onstage, but that was nothing compared to the 75 percent of the crowd that ignored the “don’t wear the band’s shirt to its show” rule and came decked out in lovingly tattered Misfits’ logo tees (though you’ll have to take my word on this, due to the band’s strict no-cellphone policy). The skull is possibly more iconic than the band at this point, a testament to the Misfits’ marketing acumen.

2. I was impressed with how tightly the band played and the energy on display, especially from constantly-in-motion bassist Jerry Only and guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein. It was hard to hear frontman Glen Danzig’s vocals, however, over loud static and feedback echoing over the Grand Garden Arena soundsystem during every single song (Static Age is supposed to be an album title, not a direction for the sound engineer). Though the Misfits’ LPs are charmingly lo-fi, I expected something better from their live sound. Instead, it was like listening to Spotify over dial up.

3. While the sound was lackluster, the visuals were anything but. LED screens throughout the venue alternated between beautiful, illuminated versions of the band’s album covers and clips from classic horror films, while colored spotlights and glowing pumpkins kept my eyes glued to the stage. There was also digital blood. Lots of digital blood. The setup perfectly complemented a lengthy setlist that touched on all the hits, including the poppy “Hybrid Moments,” macabre “Die, Die My Darling” and hard rock-infused “Where Eagles Dare.”

4. “Turn the lights on, so I can see who’s in the crowd,” Danzig requested after a rocking version of “Halloween.” That only made it easier to see how many seats were left empty in the arena. Considering how many in attendance had scored comped or discounted tickets, it was clear that this show would have been better suited for a smaller venue like the Joint. But at least the fans, some of who waited 30-plus years for this moment, had fun. That was especially evident in the nosebleeds, where fist pumps, chair dancing and singing with reckless abandon took the place of circle pitting.

5. To my pleasant surprise, the crowd reaction to opener Alkaline Trio was fairly positive. Older punks can be notoriously judgmental toward latter-day punk groups—even ones with 20 years under their belts like the Trio—but the band, which was handpicked by Misfits and whose set focused mostly on songs sung by guitarist (and current Blink 182 member) Matt Skiba, seemed to win over the audience with its own brand of horror punk.

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