Last night in midtown, Prince took a stage dive. Three quarters of the band Kiss, plus a member of Devo, joined forces to open up the pit. It was Halloween at RecordBar, and people were dressed up like their heroes. There were also real heroes in the house: the members of OFF, a hardcore supergroup that includes former Black Flag and Circle Jerks frontman Keith Morris, plus alums of Rocket From the Crypt and Burning Brides.
After taking the stage as ghoulish reggae musicians and leading off with a short jam, OFF's set came fast and furious. Though Morris is starting to show his age, he kept pace with his younger bandmates, leading OFF through a set of more than two dozen songs drawn from its 2012 self-titled full-length and First Four EPs
compilation. New tracks like “Feelings Are Meant to Be Hurt” were well-received. Old-ish songs like “Darkness” sent the packed venue into a flurry of flailing arms and stomping feet, though only for about a minute. (Most OFF songs are only about a minute.) Morris paused just to deliver impassioned speeches imploring his audience to get out the vote — “Not for Mitt Romney,” he noted, to the disdain of one crowd member who had just found his costume insulted.
With their occult robes, smoke machines, flaming cymbal, and a giant wooden skull with strobe-light eyes, Seattle’s the Spits were in full-on Halloween mode. And the band might’ve received an even warmer reception than OFF, if we’re measuring by moshing and stage-diving. The four-piece garage-punk band’s short songs offered no breathing room for the pit to take a break; it was a constant challenge to remain on your feet while anywhere near the stage.
The North Carolina punks in Double Negative opened the show. Though they lacked the showmanship or pedigree of their tourmates, they performed admirably, getting the crowd warmed up after a late start and the rumors of a sold-out show that plagued the line getting in. In the end, everybody — the princesses, cartoon characters, freaks and geeks of Kansas City — made it in, and partied to some punk for the ages.
(One criticism, KC: Did we all get together and decide that “black metal” is our official low-effort costume of 2012? I expect better next year from all of you.)