MESSAGE FROM THE UNDERWORLD: THE ADICTS
"Dressed in their now-traditional Droog get-up of black boots and bowler hats with white shirts and slacks, The Adicts looked like they hadn't missed a beat. Monkey, in particular, looked amazingly limber and spry, like he could still fit into the clothes he was wearing on his sixteenth birthday. Unlike some classic punk rock bands who get back together to play reunion tours, benefits and selected festivals, they weren't embarrassingly fat and out of shape. They didn't look like they needed help climbing up on stage. Rather, they looked like they belonged there."
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It’s a bit of a misnomer to say The Adicts came to L.A. to play with Peter and the Test Tube Babies at a surprise party for Tony Hawk in Orange County, because Monkey and Pete both reside in Southern California. Monkey lives in L.A.; Pete refuses to divulge his address, presumably to avoid the mob of angry mothers of illegitimate children he’s fathered over the years who would undoubtedly show up on his doorstep. It seems The Adicts are skateboarding’s aerial king’s favorite band, so the rest of the boys from Ipswich were flown in for the private party. Tony Hawk’s dad, incidentally, once had U.S. Bombs front man, professional skateboarder and master of disaster, Duane Peters, arrested at a skateboarding competition. How punk rock is that? Not very.
Anyway, joining The Adicts on stage to more or less make a nuisance of himself was MTV prankster and former Drew Barrymore porker, Tom Green. There are pictures of Green being Green and Tony Hawk looking very adolescent at The Adicts web site. While the band was in town they played a gig at the world-famous (for screwing bands over) Whisky, which is where I saw them, and three all-ages gigs at the Showcase Theater in godforsaken Corona, a tiny little outpost of humanity in Riverside County that I refuse to go to mainly because they don’t sell alcohol (and my friends call me unprincipled).
For a band that hasn’t played with any consistency since 1994, the Adicts sounded astonishingly good. All the blokes were there: Pete on guitar, Kid Dee on drums, Mel manning the bass guitar, and Monkey in the middle. Joining the band was a third guitar player, Scruff, who happens to be Mel’s younger brother, making the current generation of The Adicts a true family affair. Scruff apparently is part of a contingency plan in the event that Pete, who has been ill for years, is unable to finish a set. But Pete was just fine and he looked as hale and hearty as ever.
Dressed in their now-traditional Droog get-up of black boots and bowler hats with white shirts and slacks, The Adicts looked like they hadn’t missed a beat. Monkey, in particular, looked amazingly limber and spry, like he could still fit into the clothes he was wearing on his sixteenth birthday. Unlike some classic punk rock bands who get back together to play reunion tours, benefits and selected festivals, they weren’t embarrassingly fat and out of shape. They didn’t look like they needed help climbing up on stage. Rather, they looked like they belonged there.
Sad to say, in L.A. there are a lot of gigs where the band comes out with fire and gusto and the crowd is content to stand there with its thumb up its collective ass. They just stare at the band like they’re at the movies, too cool to bother to clap. I’m happy to say this wasn’t one of those gigs. Realizing that The Adicts appearance on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood was something both special and rare, all the real punk rockers came out of the woodwork for the sold out, Tuesday-night affair. After a set by The Skulls, who were joined by Weirdos guitarist Cliff Roman (!), The Adicts took the stage. Pure pandemonium. The pit was packed and the kids sang along and pumped their fists to “Viva La Revolution,” “Straight Jacket,” “Songs of Praise,” “Joker in the Pack,” “Chinese Takeaway,” “Easy Way Out” and “How Sad.” I love it when kids know all the words to songs that are older than they are.
I’ll tell you what else I love. I love those moments when the band members all look up from their instruments at more or less the same time, and acknowledge one another with a smile that says: “This is so fucking cool, I can’t believe we’re doing this.” The Adicts aren’t kids, they aren’t new at this, they’ve toured the world many times over, and, quite frankly, it isn’t getting any easier for them. But there they were, looking at each other, just beaming away, only this time the message seemed to be “This is so fucking cool, I can’t believe we ever stopped.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jim Ruland lives in L.A. and writes for the punk rock fanzines Razorcake and Destroy All Monthly. The Discovery of America, a punk rock picaresque, is presently being serialized at Sweet Fancy Moses.