Live: Off! at Culture Room, October 23

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.

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


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


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.


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


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:

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