It’s been a minute or two since the last time I made it to a really good (or “rad”), old school punk show, especially one that represented as many sub-genres as the recent Radolescents show I caught at the Shovelhead Lounge this past Friday, January 3.
For those who don’t already know, The Radolescents are made up of former members of classic Orange County, CA punk outfit The Adolescents (who are still active to this day as well), centering around core members Rikk Agnew (guitar), and Casey Royer (drums), who also shared time together in such legendary punk acts as D.I. and Social Distortion. The two have also enlisted Agnew’s nephew, Frank Agnew, Jr. (also the son of former Adolescents guitarist, Frank) on vocals, and original Adolescents guitarist John O’Donovan (who was briefly a member of the band during their inaugural period back in 1980). But before I get to their set, there was a host of other bands who played beforehand in support.
Orlando’s own Grave Return opened the show with much enthusiasm. Their slightly-snotty sound was reminiscent of early punk acts such as The Dead Boys, noticeable on tracks like “Night Visions.” It’s clear these guys should be around for awhile.
Tommy Frenzy’s Hard Drive were next up in line. Originally hailing from the New York punk scene of the mid/late ’70s, Frenzy’s set list consisted of classics from his time fronting the Tuff Darts, as well as brand new numbers off his latest release on Violent Breed Records, You Yeah You. Backed by the husband and wife rhythm section of Roger (bass) and Suzy Lamoureux (drums), Tommy & co. ripped through a set of tracks that included “”That Girl is Stupid,” “Hottest Thing,” “Don’t Play Shy,” “She’s Dead,” “Phone Booth Man,” “Businessman,” and “Here Comes Trouble” (among others).
Hard Drive bassist Roger then pulled double-duty, performing next with the more hardcore-influenced local act Swift Knuckle Solution. Aside from regular members Tony Marks (drums/vocals), and Lance White (guitar), Roger was also joined by guitarist and former Suburban Lockdown band mate Mike Roberts. The guys plowed relentlessly through tracks like “Spinning Sides,” “Loss of Control,” and “One Wrong Step” before making way for Radolescents tour mates The Hajj.
I must admit, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from The Hajj. But as soon as they started their set, I totally got it. This two piece act, lead by brothers Freddie and Phil Al-Hajj, played more laid back, ska-influenced jams. It was clear by the time they finished their set they had left an undeniable impression on the central, FL crowd.
And finally, The Radolescents finished off the night, running through their 1981 self-titled debut album (a.k.a. the “blue” album) in its entirety. From the album’s lead off track “I Hate Children” to album closer “Creatures,” every track got its due, with classics such as “Who is Who,” “Kids of the Black Hole,” “No Way,” and “Amoeba” of course receiving the highest praise. The band then played the first two tracks from the Welcome to Realty EP, including the title track and “Losing Battle,” before rather unceremoniously ending their set.
Still, the band sounded as spot on as can be, and every note played felt like it was right off the records themselves. I’ve actually seen the “other” version of The Adolescents live before (back in 2013), then-consisting of vocalist Tony Reflex and bassist Steve Soto (rest in peace). But I think this version of the band not only sounded tighter than that one, it somehow felt even more authentic (especially now without Soto remaining in that band). Those in attendance last Friday night were lucky enough to witness a night of some epic, old school punk. Truly a trip down memory lane that I’m glad I took.