BY ALEX SCHOLNICK
While most of the Halloween concerts in San Francisco were fiendishly clever cover acts (major points to The Undead Milkmen), a gaping pit of pure sonic evil opened up at the Warfield Thursday night. Rounding off his North American tour, Glenn Danzig celebrated the 25th anniversary of his self-titled band with a diverse crowd of demonic devotees and satanic sycophants. In those 25 years, Danzig has touched almost every gloomy teen or angsty adolescent with a taste for the grim. Just from the huge range of ages lining up at the door, it’s obvious that this was not some average Halloween spectacle, but something subversively sacred.
There was some cordial headbanging and moshing to the opening acts, but when time came for the Danzig to take the stage, a torrent of leather-clad denizens packed shoulder to shoulder on the floor. The house light dimmed, the stage was illuminated blood red, and Danzig emerged from the wings with his chest puffed out.
The band ripped into a handful of recent tracks from Circle of Snakes, Danzig’s eighth solo release. The crowd gleefully bumbled along to unfamiliar choruses, but Danzig’s next announcement was what everyone was really waiting for.
“For the rest of the night, we’re doing old songs only!”
The screams could have drowned out the whole band. Twist of Cain’s first strained note erupted to cheers. The crowd shoved and sang along, finally getting up to speed. The set list was a chronological series hits off of Danzig I, II, and III, the crowd lapping up every nostalgic note from these decade-old albums, singing along with every word.
If the “old songs only” screaming was deafening, what came next likely ruptured some ear drums. Danzig introduced Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein on stage, the Misfits original guitarist and a recently recouped bandmate for the singer. Doyle stomped across the stage wearing platform patent leather boots, leather pants, white face paint and a thick devilock– the Misfits’ signature hairstyle–hanging down to his chin. The show became more a Misfits set than a Danzig set at that point, making up for the lost years of legal troubles between the front man and his friends.
Charging through “Death Comes Ripping”, “Bullet”, “Hollywood Babylon”, “Astro Zombies”, almost every hit from the canonical Misfits: Collection I – itself a best-of compilation – was covered with just as much vigor as the day the songs were first recorded. As a special treat for this final show, Danzig announced they had been saving one track for San Franciscans, “Halloween”.
By the time the band changed gears back to more Danzig solo work, the tired crowd was covered in sweat, beer and crowd surfer-induced bruises. For the final song, the audience was hushed as the first forceful chords of “Mother” burst out. As the crowd sang along, there was something black-magical in seeing such a broad group of people connected by this pubescent paean.
Some guitar picks and drum sticks were thrown to a thin group in front of the stage. The crowd staggered out after the house lights returned. There was an overwhelming sense of reverence as if something religious had just been witnessed. Danzig, arguably the king of horror-rock, is a living idol among his macabre mob of fans. Singing along, crammed body against body with sweating strangers, reaching desperately to touch the singer’s hand as he reaches into the crowd – this isn’t just a concert. These horror-fueled Halloween shows are like liturgy for those who hold this day of mischief sacred. Led by one of the high priests of all things dark and demonic, the effect of Danzig’s Halloween homily could be seen in the introspective, tired eyes of the ghouls emerging onto Market Street and heading home.
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