Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Unsane Misfits AKA 1,200 People Groaning In Unison

I was watching a DVD of Whose Line Is It Anyway yesterday. It's from the American version of the show, hosted by Drew Carey. I'm a big fan of that show in both its British and American incarnations. Eventually I'll do a blog entry expressing my appreciation for Whose Line in general, although I did one a while ago about Paul Merton. One of the games they played on this DVD I watched involved footage of skateboarders failing miserably, and it reminded me of this event that took place in my past.

Ever since Metallica covered Last Caress and Green Hell back in 1987, and a good friend of mine introduced me to the original versions, I've been a big fan of The
Misfits. The band broke up in 1983, and singer Glenn Danzig continued on with Samhain, then followed up with the eponymously named group Danzig, which afforded him his most commercial success. But in late 1995, 2 of the other members of the old Misfits, brothers Jerry Only and Doyle, formed a new version of The Misfits (pictured here). They started touring, and were initially playing shows only performing the old material with a new drummer and a new singer. Since none of us had been old enough to see the Misfits when they'd first existed, we were thrilled at the chance to see this material performed live, as we'd all become huge fans of the material over the years.

Sometime in 1997 the new Misfits released an album of new material, and toured to promote it. They came to Irving Plaza in New York City on Friday, June 20, 1997, and myself and I believe at least 2, maybe 3 other friends went to the show. The venue holds roughly 1,200 people, and it was pretty packed this evening. After the opening act was done (and I have no idea who that might have been that night), a video screen came down, and music clips were shown while the stage was being set for The Misfits. Song after song came on, with some horror film clips shown as well, generating mild interest from the crowd. Then, something changed...

A video clip came on with a pretty agressive song by a band called Unsane. I'd never heard of them before, but the music sounded pretty good. But what I, and all of the other 1,200 people in the room found intensely compelling was the video clip that accompanied the song. This was the official video released by the band, and it consisted of very brief clips of them playing, and 95% clips of anonymous skateboarders that had been filmed failing at performing tricks in spectacular fashion.

While that alone is interesting enough to watch, what made it even more entertaining was the fact that you had 1,200 people packed in a tight space...all watching the same thing. When you see someone attempting a skateboard trick and fail, and witness the inevitable crushing contact of groin and handrail, you instinctively let out a graon, even though you are just a witness to the action. It's funny stuff to watch, because it's not happening to you. But when you have 1,200 people all groaning and moaning in unison, it starts to take on a life of its own. The pauses were spaced perfectly, and whoever compiled and edited the clips for the band Unsane should be commended for his brilliant comedic timing. There was always a couple seconds in between harsh, awkward impacts with pavement; just enough time to capture your breath from the last moan to visually absorb what was happening in the next clip, and verbally sympathize with the next poor soul who met his painful fate. The volume of the crowd ooohing with each epic failure increased as the song progressed, and became almost as funny as the clips themselves. It was the perfect set-up for that evening's main entertainment.

I eventually was able to get a copy of that video, and of course now, with YouTube, it's instantly accessible, and still hilarious and very entertaining to watch...but nothing will ever top that first viewing with 1,200 of my closest friends on a hot and sweaty New York summer night.

Blog Post Soundtrack; Iron Maiden (live), Jimi Hendrix, Primus, The Police (live), Rush, The Bakerton Group, The Misfits (surprise...), Judas Priest, Pearl Jam (live), Queens Of The Stone Age (live), Pink Floyd, MC5, Rollins Band, Soundgarden, Black Sabbath...and, oh yeah, Unsane...

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