Published on September 21st, 2016 | by Robert Barry Francos0
Concert Review: DOA and Dayglo Abortions, Saskatoon
DOA and Dayglo Abortions hit Amigos the other night and our resident old school punk Robert Barry Francos was there to report and take photos.
There are four or five spaces in Saskatoon which are especially superb for seeing live bands. For punk bands like the legendary D.O.A. and the Dayglo Abortions, it’s hard to beat Amigo’s Cantina (for those who plan tours, pay attention).
When it comes to bands like these that have been around since the ‘70s – not to mention homegrown Canadian icons – yeah, people are going to show up; even those around legal age (meaning drinking), fans will sing along, and there was a strong fanbase that turned up.
At about 10:10, I went to the side of the stage, which I have found to be a relatively safe place not to get trounced by the moshers, and prepared my camera for the fun of the night ahead. To my left was the Dayglo Abortions’ guitarist warming up sans amplification, so I could see the fingers move, but could not hear the twang of an unplugged electric over the jukebox. The majority of the crowd was to my right, mingling ever closer to the stage as it got closer to show time, getting more compact. Of course, room would needed to be found for the pit. One woman in her twenties (most of the audience was in that range) walked up to the stage with a full pitcher of beer; no glass, she drank directly from the plastic carafe. I was amused when she was bothered that she was having trouble drinking it later as the moshers rebounded off of her, but I’m getting ahead of myself here.
Honestly, with my punk history of 41 years, I’d never seen the Dayglo Abortions before. I’m more familiar with the Toronto/Hamilton corridor bands from the ‘70s and early ‘80s. The Dayglos’ songs focus on the contrary, with somewhat leftist leanings, and it has a history more of trying to provoke more than anything else. This audience was up for it, some carrying artifacts, old (LPs) and new (CDs, or from the merch table). One of the women in front came to the stage early on with some Dayglo albums (not sure if original or), and fiercely guarded them as she was pushed from the pulsating mass behind her. She was also not happy about that; at one point I could read her lips saying to someone something like, “they should be here for the music!” I’m not sayin’ she’s wrong…
There are some interesting guitar smashes in their songs, though a lot of it was classic rat-tat-tat style, old school hardcore. This is meant as kind of a refreshing change. With so many bands modeling themselves after post-punk grunge or power punk (such as Green Day and Blink 182), I was pleasured by the stylings of the Abortions.
For those who don’t know, the Dayglo Abortions is fronted by vox / guitarist Murray Acton, who also goes by the moniker ‘The Cretin.’ Looking hard and angular, he took off his Russian CCCP red shirt early into the sweat-filled set, and with the short pants, kinda reminded me of Angus Young. He’s been playing forever, on tour for most of that, and even though he looks a bit ragged, he sounded and played with a strong conviction. He was joined by bassist Willy Jak, drummer Blind Marc, and another guitarist whose name I didn’t catch.
As I said, the set was well received, as they spanned their career, including ‘I Killed Mommy,’ ‘Stupid Songs,’ ‘Ronald McRaygun,’ ‘Black Sabbath,’ and ‘Drugged and Driving’ (well suited for this crowd). But the one that received the most enthusiasm was ‘Proud to Be Canadian.’
[As a side note, Dayglo Abortions were mentioned in an amazing novel that is about to be republished called Punk Like Me, by the amazing JD Glass. Worth a read].
After the Dayglo’s set, and the front of the front of the stage emptied for people to get drink refills, I moved my butt over to the other side of the room. I knew from experience that D.O.A.’s singer, Joey, usually stands on the far right, so I moved over there. I stood on a chair against the wall, and waited.
The room changed for D.O.A., as some of the more diehard Abortion fans left (never understood that; you go to see some bands play, you stay and check them… but I digress…). The intermission was thankfully short, with D.O.A. coming to set up as the Dayglo Abortions broke down.
While D.O.A. certainly has as much energy as the Abortions, they definitely present a very different esthetic of the music. While the last band’s songs were somewhat goofy and pure fun, sort of like the musical version of putting your thumb to your nose and sticking out your tongue, D.O.A. are much more political and I would add somewhat more melodic. Both are chantable, but D.O.A.’s messages make what is being said behind the genre formula much stronger for that reason, in my opinion.
The leader of the band, guitarist / vocalist Joey Shithead Keithley, was wearing a shirt that had a drawing of Donald Trump holding a gun directly at the reader, with the words “Fucked Up Donald” (their new single) and the band name down the side. With all the work Joey has done politically (he ran for local office a few times) and musically, my favorite thing he’s posited is “Talk – Action = 0.” Simple, to the point, and powerful stuff.
Backing him up was Mike Hodsall on bass, and a fuzzy Paddy Duddy on drums. There was also someone equally (if not more) fuzzy dong some back-up vocals, but I didn’t catch the name.
I really do believe that D.O.A. are as important as, say Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys, when it comes to political thinking, and their music definitely has the chant lyrics and melodies to back it up (bands like the DKs were more into formula and rhythm than melodies, such as their classic ‘Rise Above’). Joey’s vocals can be fast like The Descendants and joyously out there like The Circle Jerks, but there is something about how his songs are constructed that are his own, with a determined liberal agenda (that is close, yet slightly left to my own, actually).
Likewise, they covered their canon, such as ‘Race Riot,’ and more than one song about Police violence, which is very apropos for the current climate. Also, as always, there are a couple of covers, including his stunning standard of Edwin Starr’s ‘War (What is it Good For?),’ and as is tradition, one that you might not expect, such as by one of the original punks, Johnny Cash. There were also some new ones, such as the aforementioned ‘Fucked Up Donald.’
Joey is pretty active on stage, kicking up his leg, prowling around and going right up to the audience at stage centre. He also holds his guitar straight out, plucks the strings with his teeth, makes that verbal noise when you shake your head back and forth real. It also seemed like this set went by really fast, though it was probably as long as was the Abortions’.
After the show, I happily went home. I could have stayed around, but considering the number of people that were in another state of being, I thought I should get in my car before they did. It was a pleasant ride home after a killer show.
Text and images © Robert Barry Francos, 2016