The Halloween cover show has become an increasingly popular way for bands to exercise their influences, and Saturday’s benefit for West Philly’s People’s Emergency Center at Kung Fu Necktie was a glorious resurrection. TV Casualty, fronted by Jersey’s favorite everyman (one of them, anyway) Ted Leo, brought together a rogue’s gallery of punks—Atom Goren (Atom And His Package) and Andy Nelson (Paint it Black), among them—to pay tribute to the macabre boys of October: the Misfits. A recent interview in the Philadelphia City Paper with member Brian Sokel (AM/FM) revealed that this is not a one-off Halloween event and that a Black Flag benefit with other collaborators is in the works.
From the opening chords of “She,” Leo took his designation as Glenn Danzig as serious as one can when making affectations of Glenn Danzig. With his bouffant wig and macho posturing, Leo perfectly captured his famous Garden State accent, bemoaning that “there were too many words” to remember along with several threats of vomiting. Summoning the dark one was so taxing, in fact, at one point a weary Leo relinquished the mic to the hyperactive front row for a boisterous rendition of “Braineaters.” Perching himself center stage, he glared and cooed in step for immortal sing-a-longs like “Horror Business” and “Hybrid Moments,” a song that has recently creeped its way into the Pharmacists’ repertoire with some regularity. Leo wasn’t the only one immersed in method playing; Nelson’s Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein impression conjured the same menacing stiffness of its lanky source.
The evening divided the Misfit’s oeuvre into two chronologically delineated sets: its early singles and its later, faster woah-oh-oh period. Though the first had the classics in its favor (“Last Caress” and “Teenagers From Mars,” just to name two), both had its respective highlights. Staying true to its Evilive incarnation, the band brought up 2009’s answer to Henry Rollins, Dan Yemin (Lifetime, Kid Dynamite, Paint it Black), to provide guest vocals on a throaty rendition of “We Are 138.” It was just as good, if not better, than it sounds.
Though the second set might have oversold the crowd’s enthusiasm for the Misfits’ late-era thrash, it concluded on a high note with a rollicking “Skulls” along with a song described as “a new direction for the band,” as drummer Chris Wilson counted off the opening to Danzig’s “Mother.” Hurling himself into the crowd as the last notes rang out, Leo and the rest of TV Casualty quickly disappeared into the night, an apparition of the now-tainted band’s former greatness.
—Matt Siblo; photo by Kurt Iobst