Live at the Glass House

July 10, 2023 Review by Todd Markel
The Fourth of July is considered the most American holiday, and The Vandals are a punk band that embodies the American spirit. They’re known for their irreverent humor and energetic performances.
After their recent short, but well-received, performance at the Punk in Drublic Festival in San Diego, their fans were ready for a full-length set from the boys.

It had been a few years since their last Fourth of July show and in a brilliant move, holding it on the third of July gives everyone a chance to “pre-game” with our favorite punk rockers, and still get a chance to spend the fourth at home to celebrate in the traditional manner by grilling and lighting off some fireworks.

Opening the show was the young and talented Caleb Santos. He can’t be any older than 10 and his specialty is covering classic punk rock songs on his ukulele. He kicked it off with Rancid’s “Maxwell Murder” and had everyone singing along: “Dial 999 if you really want the truth!”
He continued playing songs by all the big names of punk, from NOFX, The Offspring, Pennywise, and ending with one by The Vandals, “And Now We Dance.”

Following Santos was Wolves of Glendale, a comedy band made up of friends Ethan Edenburg, Eric Jackowitz, and Tom McGovern. Describing them is a bit challenging; I’d have to say they remind me a little of Weird Al playing his original songs. They have a familiar, catchy pop sound accompanied by funny-as-hell, self-deprecating lyrics.
They played a song called “Loud Ass Car,” which humorously portrays attention-seeking bros who peel out in their cars with the stereo blasting as loud as possible. It goes on to suggest that they may be making up for their shortcomings elsewhere. Wolves of Glendale have a big sound for just three guys playing a drum pad, keyboard, and one guitar, but they are a lot of fun to watch. They closed with their latest single, “The Gym,” a song about a series of unfortunate events that starts all because a dude went to the gym.

In an unusual but warranted move, Santos returned to the stage for a second set, paying tribute to everyone’s favorite punk hits on his ukulele. He started with The Vandals’ “Euro-barge” and continued with Rancid’s “Radio,” Face to Face’s “Disconnected,” and NOFX’s “Bob.” He appropriately closed his set with Pennywise’s “Bro Hymn.” He was very much well received by everyone and I expect big things from this kid.
The stage was adorned with patriotic decorations in red, white, and blue, including balloons, banners, and streamers. Our headliners for the night walked onto the stage and got things started with a little song about karma called “People That Are Going to Hell.”

Warren Fitzgerald and Joe Escalante were dressed in their finest red, white, and blue outfits, with Fitzgerald adding a cape as a perfect accessory. They followed with “Café 405,” a song about falling in love with a girl at Hot Dog on a Stick. The band played one crowd favorite after another, including “Idea for a Movie,” “Ape Drape,” and “Pizza Tran.”  

Vandals lead vocalist Dave Quackenbush showcased his boundless energy and captivating stage presence, engaging with the crowd between songs. If you’re a band and you have a birthday song, inevitably, it’s going to be someone’s birthday, and so it was no surprise when they ended up taking a request and played “It’s My Birthday.” Quackenbush did express concern that Brooks Wackerman, who was filling in on drums for Josh Freese, “might not know it,” but he quickly proved that he was more than up for the job.

The band members displayed tight-knit chemistry as they flawlessly performed their fast-paced punk anthems. Each member contributed to the band’s raw energy and precise execution, solidifying their reputation as true entertainers through their tongue-in-cheek banter and humorous stage antics.
The Vandals played a total of 10 songs off their landmark 1998 album, “Hitler Bad, Vandals Good.” From start to finish, the band delivered an exhilarating performance that left the crowd buzzing with excitement. The over-the-top patriotic song, “America Fuck Yeah!” from the movie “Team America,” is always a fun fist-pumping sing-along. The band even added a touch of Christmas spirit with their popular song “Oi to the World.” The setlist was a perfect blend of punk rock classics and fan favorites, including “Urban Struggle,” “Pat Brown,” and “Euro-Barge.”

For many, a song like “Anarchy Burger” and its sing-along line, “hold the government,” epitomize questioning the government, a quintessentially American act. Quackenbush asked the crowd if was OK if they just pretend to leave the stage and come back for an encore. The crowd exploded into a frantic mosh pit during the fiery rendition of “My Girlfriend’s Dead.” Every Vandals show usually climaxes with a special performance by Fitzgerald and tonight it was the classic “I Have a Date,” and the band finally bid farewell with their unique cover of Rodger and Hammerstein’s “So Long Farewell” from “The Sound of Music.”
In conclusion, The Vandals’ Fourth of July show was a resounding success. They delivered an electrifying performance that captured the essence of punk rock rebellion while celebrating the nation’s independence. Their irreverent humor, flawless musicianship, and captivating stage presence made it an unforgettable experience for all in attendance. The Vandals continue to prove that they are true champions of punk, igniting the spirit of rebellion within us all.  


by Todd Markel Rock Photography




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