T.S.O.L. & Dwarves

Coming to the Observatory
December 28, 2022 by Kevin Gomez
As they have been for the past few years, Orange County’s punk rock legends T.S.O.L. are kicking off the new year by playing a pair of Southern California shows. Last year it was to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their seminal 1982 release, “Beneath the Shadows.”
This year they are bringing along the rowdy punk rock degenerates Dwarves to rock the Observatory in Santa Ana on January 6th, and the Regent in Los Angeles on January 7th. As if that wasn’t enough, T.S.O.L. stated, “We’ll have a special setlist, you only get at these shows!”  

Led by the often outspoken Jack Grisham, the band formed in Long Beach in 1980 by kids barely out of high school. T.S.O.L. has always maintained a rare ability to thread equal parts hardcore and goth, often times within the very same song. Their first self-titled EP leaned more toward aggressive, anarchistic, and politically-charged music, and led to their first full-length album, “Dance With Me,” which saw the darker, horror-themed subject matter that would become part of their signature sound.
It was great seeing T.S.O.L. playing more shows in 2022, as Grisham had told me last year, so much of 2020 and 2021 was spent sitting around waiting. For a band that spends nearly a third of the year on tour and playing shows around the world, things came to a standstill when COVID hit. In fact, they had just played The Viper Room in West Hollywood before mandatory lockdowns were announced in California, and so their name remained on the marquee outside for over a year.
For T.S.O.L. 2022 marked a return back to playing to live audiences. From Punk in Drublic to the SoCal Punk Invasion tour with Black Flag and The Dickies, T.S.O.L. reveled at the chance to stay busy again. They will close out the year Friday night, playing with Circle Jerks at the Ventura Theater. They will barely get a week to relax before bringing that same energy to the Observatory.
I’m excited because joining them will be none other than Chicago’s Dwarves. Although they have remained busy playing shows, they have not released any new material since 2018’s “Take Back the Night.” I spoke with lead singer Blag Dahlia recently and he said they have been busy this year getting back into the studio and recording again. In fact, Dahlia told me they have enough material to put out their first double-LP; they are practically done and just need to do mixing, so expect a new album by next fall.
In the meantime, Dahlia has spent the past few months as his alter ego, Ralph Champagne. His debut solo album, “Introducing Ralph Champagne,” is one of the most charming, pleasant surprises to come out in recent memory and contender for top 10 of 2022 in my book. Dahlia will go back to his punk rock roots for the Dwarves set Friday, though, bringing all of the delicious offensive and politically incorrect lyrics we’ve come to love.
Also playing that night will be Orange County punk veterans, The Crowd. With a career spanning back to 1979, they played in the same circles as T.S.O.L. in the ‘80s and ‘90s, often sharing the same bill, so Friday will be no different. Opening the show will be Long Beach’s Carpit.