Show reviews: Morrissey and Patti Smith at Staples Center, The Muffs at The Satellite
The Muffs are such a great band with incredible hooks, ace musicianship, and pure energy. And Saturday night’s show at the Satellite ranks up there with so many amazing hometown gigs at Raji’s and other local dives over the last 20+ years. Why they still pack relatively small venues with stinky bathrooms and aren’t huge stars is beyond me. I would say there’s no justice in this world if just the night before Morrissey had not only sold out Staples Center but also mandated that its McDonald’s eateries be closed and that the other vendors swap in meatless dishes.
Following Morrissey’s carved-in-stone opener Kristeen Young on Friday night was Patti Smith and Her Band. A packed setlist of heavy songs like like “Dancing Barefoot,” “April Fool,” “People Have The Power,” and “Rock N Roll Nigger” showed off Smith’s unfiltered and raw yet poetic take on rock that has made her an icon to original punks, riot grrrls, and anyone who actually listens to lyrics. The entire set was intense but peaked during “Because The Night,” which she matter-of-factly dedicated to her deceased husband, bandmate, and MC5 member Fred “Sonic” Smith on the anniversary of their wedding. She ended the set with her version of “Gloria,” famously modified with the line “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine.” Unabashedly intellectual, oddly spiritual, and awesome.
These days, Morrissey plays more Smiths songs than ever. From the kick-ass opener “Shoplifters of The World Unite” to the slow take on “Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” to the ripping version of “How Soon Is Now?” none of the army of Smiths T-shirt wearing fans left disappointed. Even so, Moz visibly bummed most of the section I was in by playing “Meat Is Murder,” complete with grainy footage of factory farms, veal calves, and diseased poultry and blood red stage lighting. Nearly everyone in our row sat down and the dad in front of us covered his son’s eyes. For the record, I don’t eat meat and love that song. Of course, Morrissey’s solo material has become as beloved as his work with The Smiths, and it’s always a love fest when he plays “First of the Gang” in the city that it’s about. No place on Earth adores Moz like Los Angeles, and he never fails to return the sentiment. I don’t go to many arena shows, but seeing Morrissey masterfully handle the sold-out Staples Center full of young goths, old new wavers, sensitive hardcore guys, homeboys, and cholas made me proud to live in L.A.
Which brings us back to The Muffs–a Los Angeles institution even when they lived in Fullerton. There are shows where the fan who sings the words of every song is annoying, but in certain cases like The Ramones, 7 Seconds, and The Muffs, you’re the oddball if you don’t shout along as you bop to old favorites like “Tragedy” and newer classics like “Nothing.” (And it’s okay because Kim sings louder.) So. Much. Fun. They boasted about having godhead drummer Roy McDonald play with them instead of the band they share him with, Redd Kross, that night and traded typically bratty banter about granny underwear and the same old toilets at the club formerly known as Spaceland. They always play the best covers, too. Much to Ronnie’s throat’s dismay, Saturday night’s set included their ripping version of The Zeros’ “Beat Your Heart Out” and there was also a Pixies song that they just learned in honor of the band’s upcoming stint opening for Frank Black. The already excellent set lasted an hour, but they kept adding song after song to the encore adding up to 90 minutes of girl-group inspired, punk-powered, seamless and timeless pop perfection. So when is the new LP that they keep talking about coming out?