Circle Jerks Live at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz January 24

…so we’re waiting for the Circle Jerks to come out to play. the soundtrack to merry poppins is playing over the PA which was funny for the first few minutes but then just became really annoying. i wonder if this was a joke requested by the band, or just those fucks who work at the catalyst screwing with their customers as usual. regardless, after sometime passes i see this short skinny guy walking through the crowd. his jeans are torn to all hell, he’s got a stack of things in his hand, he’s got a big bald spot on the back of his head, and his dreads are extremely ratty and hang down further than most. he also looks like he might be dead. this of course, is the unmistakable presence of Keith fuckin Morris. i point him out to my friend and the he quickly disappears walking behind the stage. a few minutes later he emerges on stage and starts to tape down a handful of setlists that span the length of three pages taped together. a few minutes later Greg Heston (Circle Jerks founding guitarists and the second guitarist to join Bad Religion) walks out to start fucking with his guitar. i really give it to these guys. it’s about 40 years later and they still set all their shit up.a few more minutes pass and we’re all getting antsy. there’s been enough opening bands and too much time spent sound checking for a punk show. it’s time to finally get this shit started. a few more minutes pass, the lights go out, and the band emerges on stage. Keith takes a few minutes to introduce everyone in the band, explains that his sick, and makes a comment that everyone in the band hates him and he doesn’t care (this is something i’ve heard reports on before but i’ve never been able to confirm…though it wouldn’t surprise me). during this intro all the meatheads in the crowd are yelling to shut the fuck up and play, something that would continue throughout the entire night whenever Keith would stop to talk about politics, ways to try and fight the system, or anything really. and to you meatheads (especially all of you who make it a point to go out of your way to tell me how much you think Pennywise sucks), i hope you become quadriplegics and can never make it to another show in your life and have to suffer through living till you’re 112. Punk isn’t just about fucking loud aggressive music and running around in circles. it’s about realizing you can fucking do something in this world and if you don’t get that, then you’re fucking useless. rather than ignoring the meatheads, Keith told them to calm the fuck down, that they weren’t going anywhere and they were going to play something like 30 songs so fucking relax.

and with that the show and the pit started back up in full swing. there were now at least twice as many punks out on the floor than before, in full slam mood. i’ve seen a lot of crazy pits throughout all the shows i’ve been too. i’ve been a 70,000+ crowd to see Rage Against the Machine play. i have to say though, fuck everything i’ve seen before. this was the fucking pit. this band was the scene that really started this shit, and their crowd still represents. and the set progressed, the pit writhed up and down. Keith stopped to talk a lot between songs and really interacted with the crowd which too many bands don’t do anymore. i mean, he really was talking to people and listening to people yelling things at him and replying back to them. i don’t remember all of the songs, 30+ is a lot ya know, but some of the highlights were Deny Everything, Wasted, Coup d’etat, Wild in the Streets, I Just Want Some Skank,

as the set progressed people started to make their way onto stage so they could dive, only to be promptly removed by catalyst security (and possibly beaten). Keith also started to call all the meatheads in the crowd out. he stopped halfway through Coup d’etat to yell at some guy in a red shirt who was throwing mad elbows. security promptly removed him. a few similar situations happened through out the night. now, at first i felt at odds with these people getting removed but then Keith made a really good point during one of these moments. he said something along the lines of hey man, if you’re gonna act like a dick and just be out to hurt people then i’m sure as hell not going to protect you from security. on the flip side of this, Keith also called security out for fucking with people they shouldn’t.

the set was coming to an end. Keith announced they had two songs left. then he i heard him say well then get him up here. he must’ve been speaking to the crowd up front. all of the sudden a little kid, couldn’t have been more than 12 years old, if that, is being raised out of the crowd onto the stage, i guess he wanted to sing a song. after consulting with the kid for a moment, the band busted into World Up My Ass which was amazing. the kid had a lot of energy, knew all the words, and just rocked it. after that the band played their last song and walked off stage.

the crowd started screaming out the bands name and after only a few short moments they came back out. Keith said they had four more songs to play all as one big long medley. i’m not sure what the first one was, but it was followed by Revenge, Gimme Gimme Gimme, and fuckin Depression!!! (all Black Flag songs). then they left stage and came back out again. Keith explained they had one last song left and told a quick story about one of his friends telling him that he would be playing this song for the rest of his life, and then the band went full speed ahead into Nervous fuckin Breakdown! and it was just absolutely amazing.

all i can say is if you ever get the chance to see the Circle Jerks play, go see them…The Circle Jerks and Black Flag invented west coast hardcore punk, invented it, and somehow the Jerks are still touring so go see them before Keith Morris dies.


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