Anaheim, California, was the place to be for a rowdy night of punk rock, as the Dwarves and Queers came to The Doll Hut Saturday night. Both bands had played a show the previous night, although not together. The Dwarves played Friday night in San Diego at the Soda Bar, and the Queers were fresh off a bill that was headlined by the Dickies.
As I mentioned in my article on Punk Rock Bowling their set in Vegas was the first I had seen where Joe Queer was not playing guitar. I have seen the New Hampshire band play as a four piece and even as a three piece, but always with Joe on guitar and lead vocals. Punk Rock Bowling was the first time I had seen him only singing, and for the past two nights this trend continued.
When asked later about the recent change, Joe stated that they wanted to change things up on their current tour and this allowed him to focus primary on singing detail, while allowing him to better connect with the audience. It seems to work, because the band put on a stellar showcase. Taking up sole guitar duties is the Italian-born, Ginger Vitis. The Queers are known for their fast, three chord punk rock, in the vein of the Ramones. Ginger provides a nice contrast, as his style is more of a classic rock shredder, nailing guitar solos and showboating for the crowd.
The band is rounded out by an outstanding rhythm section of drummer, Hoglog Rehab and longtime bassist, Cheeto Bandito. Hoglog kept the beat going at a thunderous pace that brings back memories of surf rock drummer but played at a ridiculously fast speed. He plays so hard and fast, it’s surprising he did not break any drumheads on the recent times I watched him play. Cheeto was in equally impressive form Saturday, providing not only the sole backing vocalist for the band, but impressive bass riffs, such as the bridge to “Love Love Love.”
The Queers somehow managed to squeeze in over twenty songs in just over 30 minutes. An accomplishment that can only be achieved by playing fast, short songs, with as little talking in between as possible. The set included “Tamara is a Punk,” “Debra Jean,” and “Monster Zero.” The Queers closed out their set, as they usually do with the trio of songs, “Fuck the World,” “This Place Sucks,” and the popular, “Punk Rock Girls.”
The Dwarves wasted no time showing why they are the self-proclaimed, “best band ever” by immediately launching into Dominator as soon as they got on stage. Lead singer, Blag Dahlia, donned in his usual sleeveless shirt and fingerless gloves provides a combination of swagger and humor, that results in a hell of a front-man.
What struck me most in their second song of the night, Devil’s Level, was the loud, screeching co-lead vocals of bassist, Nick Oliveri. Oliveri, previously of Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss, has been playing with the Dwarves for the past two decades, and adds the missing ingredient of attitude and hard rock bass playing. His piercing backup vocals provides a great contrast to Blag’s punk rock voice.
Lead guitarist, The Fresh Prince of Darkness showcased that punk rock can be more than just simple, three chord progression. An excellent guitarist, he often demonstrates hints of classic rock and even blues, such as, “Like You Want.” Drummer, Snupac, can play as fast and ferocious as necessary, such as the “Astro Boy” or “We Only Came to Get High.” Snupac also shows his ability to play slowed down, mellow rock such as the bluesy, “You Gotta Burn.”
A fight did somewhat mar the evening as an overly aggressive member continued to slam dance violently into the audience one too many times. The final time, someone took it personal and a melee involving about a dozen people broke out, pouring into several innocent bystanders. Yours truly received an entire cup of beer thrown onto my shirt. Blag tried his best to ignore the first few incidents, but when fists were actually thrown the show stopped and he chastised those few who were trying to fight, while the majority of the crowd came to watch some great punk music.
Fortunately, the crowd settled down and the band was able to play the rest of the show without further incident. The 15 song setlist drew heavily from the band’s 1997 release, “The Dwarves Are Young and Good Looking.” The Dwarves cannot play without including fan favorite, “Everybodies Girl.” Although there was no encore, the Dwarves left everyone more than satisfied, closing out with “The Dwarves Are Still the Best Band Ever” and finally, “We Must Have Blood.”
All in all, a great night for music at the World Famous Doll Hut!