TSOL at The Observatory

FeatureSome may know TSOL lead singer Jack Grisham as a skater, old school punk rocker, or just plain old weird but no one can deny he knows how to rock a show. Jack and the other members in True Sons of Library have developed a reputation of having some of the roughest and riotous crowds in the punk rock scene. Riding the second wave of punk straight out of the early 90’s TSOL can still pack a venue like the Orange County Observatory with ease, and that’s just what they did on May 16th. They were accompanied by “oi” spirited Brits the Anti-Nowhere League, fellow 80’s punkers Zero Boys, energetic Texans the Riverboat Gamblers, and local boys Hardship Anchors. This show took everything punks love about the 80’s and crammed it into one place complete with circle pits, plenty of moshing, and that good old fashioned punk rock spirit.

Hardship Anchors started the show with a few punked out doo-wop style tracks in the style of Me First and the Gimme Gimmies and Masked Intruder. Their songs were unique but couldn’t get more than a few fans pacing the circle pits because the tracks never really picked up. They were fast paced but may have benefited from some raw old school aggression.

Next up was the Riverboat Gamblers. These extremely mobile Texans really brought the show up a notch. Amidst egging on the crowd and nearly dodging blows to the head, the bands lead singer,Rookie Sensation Mike Wiebe, ran and jumped around on and off stage like a mad man all the while holding a tune. The Riverboat Gamblers may not have had a huge following but they sure got the circle pits started.

_DSC1373The Zero Boys hit the stage soon after and really brought the show together. They had the same old school style as TSOL and just as much energy as the Riverboat Gamblers. The extraordinarily large amount of fans that flocked to The Observatory really got the house moving. Circle pits quickly opened up into full effect and didn’t slow down until the end of the set. It was obvious to see fans traveled to the show just for the Zero Boys and defiantly were not disappointed. The band originally formed in 1979 but hasn’t slowed down since. Paul Mahern’s white hair flailed about as he jumped and darted across the stage. It’s always nice to see original punk bands with this much energy. They really paved the way for the night’s next act.

_DSC1406The Anti-Nowhere League were next on the bill and sported matching leather jackets. Lead singer Animal commanded the crowd and soon had the entire venue chanting “OI!” at the top of their lungs. Originally forming in the early 80’s these English rockers keep the punk rock sprit with a metal edge. The group has been covered by Metallica, but make no mistake, these guys are punks to the core. They take hardcore roots from bands like The Exploited and Cro Mags but keep a level head and a melodic tune that is usually inexistent within the original hardcore scene. Their set really got the crowd moving and ready for T.S.O.L. to take the stage.

This tour traveled from coast to coast, and Orange County was the only stop that got to see TSOL. take the headlining spot. Needless to say this Long Beach band had one absolutely wild hometown show. Grisham hopped on stage with what can only be described as hermaphrodite elegance. His half business suit half floor length dress getup has become well known amongst the bands fans. Originally Jack wore the controversial outfit to provoke the crowd and pick fights with unhappy patrons. Now most didn’t even bat an eye at this somewhat outlandish stunt, but the old school spirit didn’t stop there.

Grisham launched into punk anthems “Code Blue” and “Superficial love” causing the already humongous circle pit to entirely engulf the remainder of the floor. Crowd surfers and stage divers came from all directions as the venue’s security slowly relinquished control, but this decision resulted in a fan ripping Jack’s dress as he leaped off the stage. If you ever wanted to see a grown man in boxers sing punk rock you were in luck. He continued the show and finished strong with the remains of his tattered (now mini skirt) barley clinging to his boxers.

Overall those who attended this unique show were treated to more than their share of old school tunes if they didn’t mind vulgar lyrics, insane circle pits, and scantily dressed lead singers. But then again, isn’t that just punk rock?

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