I know we are only two weeks into 2022, but Friday night at Alex’s Bar has set the standard pretty damn high for any shows the rest of the year. On paper, what appeared to be a pretty strong lineup headlined by Get Dead exceeded even these high expectations. Fans in attendance were treated to a versatile night ranging from acoustic, to hip hop and punk.
Originally scheduled to open up the show was Los Angeles natives, Upper Downer. I’m a fan, so I was pretty bummed to see that one of the members had tested positive earlier this week and had to pull out of the show. Fortunately, the magnificent Linh Le, bassist for Bad Cop/Bad Cop, filled in on just a days’ notice. Playing a solo acoustic 30 minute set, Le opened up with a cover of “Lean on Sheena,” originally written by Avoid One Thing and, popularized by the Bouncing Souls. She also played Face to Face’s “Disconnected.” She played two Bad Cop songs, “Warriors” and “I’m Done,” and closed her set with a cover of Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades” (playfully sung as “Asian Spades”).
GET DEAD at
Alex’s Bar January 14, 2022
Long Beach, California
Before leaving the stage, Le announced that a surprise band would be playing next. Comprised of members of other bands, Hail ACAB (pronounced “hail a cab” but spelt like the hashtag #ACAB), turned out to be Matt Caskitt on drums and vocals, and Bruce Zebal, Jr. on guitar. Also included was half of original opener, Upper Downer, with Bert Gregg on bass and Jesse on guitar. They were a brand new incarnation, and Zebal proclaimed this was their first show ever. They joked about calling the group Bandemic, as it was born during lockdown. The four piece put in a very solid set, playing brand new songs that they were planning on recording. Each member was really good and the songs sounded great, and I was really impressed with Caskitt’s playing, especially while singing lead.
While researching for the tour’s preview, I looked up Ceschi, who is joining Get Dead on this 10-city West Coast tour. This was the first time I had heard of him, and Wikipedia said simply he was a hip-hop artist out of New Haven, Connecticut. That was quite misleading and such a one-dimensional description of a multi-talented, multi-dimensional artist. First and foremost, Ceschi is a one-man show relying solely on his talent, his acoustic guitar, and a laptop that occasionally plays beats. He started off with two acoustic ballads before singing a rapid-fire rap song that could rival Busta Rhymes or Twista. His lyrics are passionate and thought-provoking, hinting on poetry.
He is also unconventional. Just when you think he’s shown you everything, he walks off stage with his guitar, and you think he’s going to sing in the audience. No, he keeps walking with the crowd following behind and heads out to the outside patio. He climbs a table and sings you a heart-felt song. He then walks further back and climbs another table singing a song about injustice as members of Get Dead watch in awe. Keep an eye on for Ceschi in the future.
The time had come for the evening’s headliners, Get Dead. It’s already been a pretty spectacular night and something really special is necessary to top all this. Fortunately, the Bay Area band was more than ready to take on the challenge and make this night their own.
Fans and critics alike reveled at the masterpiece that is “Dancing with a Curse,” their 2020 release. The album made several top 10 lists and for good reason. The album is so good, in fact, that what Get Dead has been doing at their shows since its release is playing about 3/4 of the album during their sets. Tonight, they did just that, playing 10 of the 12 songs from “Dancing with a Curse.”
The band walked on stage as a monologue from Al Pacino in “Devil’s Advocate” played, and launched into the album’s opening track, “Disruption,” a reggae-meets punk with a hip hop twist, that brings to mind the Clash’s “Guns of Brixton.” It begins with guitarist Michael McGuire doing a ska riff, followed by bassist Tim Mehew joining in with a heavy bass line, only to be met by Kyle Santos with a fast guitar tremolo picking. “Fire Sale” sees McGuire playing the song with a ska upstroke, while guitarist Kyle Santos plays fast, power chord punk and lead singer Sam King sings at a rapid fire pace. All this while drummer Scott Powell hammers away with a thunderous, yet often groovy, drumbeat.
They finished off the last of the album’s songs with “Pepperspray,” a song about the pain and frustration at losing loved ones, and this may be my favorite song of the last two years. King brings the songs to life with his gravelly voice, and you get the feeling he is being 100% sincere in his words and passion, his eyeballs often rolling in the back of his head or closed tight as he sings.
When they had played the last song off “Dancing with the Curse,” McGuire finally pulled out a setlist and began playing the upstroke guitar intro to “Welcome to Hell.” King walked to the side of the stage and pointed up at the conveniently placed sign at Alex’s that indeed states, “Welcome to Hell.” The San Francisco band played fan favorites, “She’s a Problem” and “Cousin Marvin,” before ending the night with a skate punk cover of the Stooges’ classic, “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” at breakneck speed. After watching from the sidelines for several months after the album’s release, you can see the legitimate fun and appreciation they have for getting to play these new songs before a live audience. It’s an album that deserves to be heard and I’m grateful the guys are finally getting a chance to do just that.