Recently, it was announced that horror-punk pioneers The Misfits would be re-forming their "classic" lineup to play at Riot Fest in Chicago and Denver this fall. Almost immediately, the Internet went wild as the news spread. So why is this such a big deal to so many people?
4. THE CLASSIC LINEUP HASN'T PERFORMED TOGETHER SINCE 1983
The Misfits are one of those bands that everyone seems to love but hardly anyone got to see perform live. Okay, that's an exaggeration; not everyone in the world is a fan. With song titles like "Angelfuck" and "Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?" they're not going to be everyone's cup of tea, and my baby-boomer parents probably won't recognize the band's name, but pretty much anyone who likes spooky metal or punk rock will be familiar with them; the Misfits probably combined punk and horror-metal most successfully. Sure, shock-rock had existed since at least the 1970s, but the Misfits went a route different from the one traveled by bands like Alice Cooper and KISS, and have influenced countless bands since breaking up in the '80s. Not only did they craft a unique image for themselves, but their "brand" has become one of the most successful in rock history. Even people unfamiliar with The Misfits' music have probably seen their Crimson Ghost mascot; that thing was everywhere in the '80s, and not just in punk circles. I still see it on T-shirts or other items all the time.
THE MUSIC HOLDS UP
The cool thing about The Misfits is that they weren't a one-trick pony. Unlike many punk and hardcore bands, they went through several distinct musical evolutions, bridging diverse styles from '50s-derived melodic punk; infectious horror-themed songs with singalong choruses; and brutally raw hardcore that acted as a fitting precursor to thrash-metal. There's no telling what songs the band might dig out of the grave for Riot Fest, but there are so many good ones that fans will probably love the set list.
THE LED ZEPPELIN EFFECT
What? Why would I invoke a band like Led Zeppelin in an article about a Misfits reunion? Hear me out. They have a few things in common. When Led Zeppelin broke up in 1980, their place in rock history was already secured. That was 36 years ago, though, so no one under the age of, say, 45 or so is likely to have had the opportunity to see the original band play live. Since the group's breakup, Led Zeppelin's popularity and legend have only grown, but other than a handful of performances the remaining group members have played together, no one born after 1980 has had a chance to see them.
That's the case with this classic roster of the Misfits: Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only and Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein haven't set foot on the same stage for longer than many of their fans have been alive, and these shows might be their only chance to see the band perform with their most iconic lineup. Of course, not every fan can make it to the two Riot Fest shows, and there's speculation that if the concerts go well, perhaps the band will launch a much wider nationwide tour.
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But here's the thing: That's exactly what fans of Led Zeppelin were hoping would happen after that band played a set together at a tribute concert in 2007. For a while, it seemed like that could happen, but almost ten years on, it hasn't, and John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant aren't getting any younger. For that matter, neither are the guys in The Misfits, who now range in age from 51 to 61. Also, they haven't always gotten along very well, so these two shows might be the only chances fans have to see them all perform live together.
I've been a Misfits fan since discovering them just barely too late to see them perform in the '80s. I'm also a huge fan of Glenn Danzig's follow-up project, Samhain, and I think the first couple of Danzig albums are good too. But it's not always easy to like Glenn Danzig. About half the time, he seems to be a pretty cool guy when it comes to his fans, but then I'll find out he's been accused of beating someone up for taking photos at a concert, or hear some comical story that makes his tough-guy persona sound ridiculous, and I'm left wondering what's wrong with the dude.
I went to one of the Danzig "legacy" shows, where he performed music from various eras of his lengthy career, and the guy took the time to yell at the stage crew for "being fuck-ups," while his security team launched into the crowd to eagerly hassle anyone they saw with a camera. It kinda left a bad impression. So, yeah, he seems to possess a mercurial nature, and there's a distinct possibility that the guy could flip out onstage, or that these will be the last two shows the "classic lineup" ever plays together. Let's face it — onstage freak-outs can be pretty entertaining sometimes. So perhaps that tiny bit of potential chaos might fuel two great shows, or a massive rock-and-roll train wreck. Either way, any fan of the Misfits who gets to attend either of the Riot Fest gigs should get to see an interesting show.