Date: Friday, June 17, 2011
City: Toronto, Ont.
Venue: Horseshoe Tavern
It was a wild night at The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern on Friday. Not only was West Coast Hardcore Punk Supergroup OFF! performing, but someone also lost a shoe. This is no joke, and this latter fact became public knowledge thanks in large part to lead singer Keith Morris’ (of Black Flag and Circle Jerks fame) seemingly unhealthy obsession with returning a shoe thrown onstage during the opening song. The case of the missing shoe lasted the entire 40 minute set but was never solved. It’s safe to say that this was the tamest aspect of the show.
Known for quick 1-2 minute songs, OFF! needed to slow it down a little to fill the 40 minutes, so Morris took to the microphone to air some personal grievances with our North American oppressors-the rich and powerful. One fan was so angry at the reality that a singer was actually going to talk during a show that he began to agonizingly scream at Morris to shut up and simply play the music. I assumed that he must have been employed by the government.
So every 4 to 5 minutes (3 songs worth), Morris began to speak out. His most controversial moment came when he began to talk about 9/11, and how the death of Osama Bin Laden meant nothing because the American and Canadian governments were currently in the process of training future Bin Laden’s to carry out further terrorist agendas.
Dinner conversation this was not.
But really, what would a punk rock concert be without this sort of anti-establishment sort of behavior? Renowned for pushing life’s most provocative issues to the forefront (and for his dark sarcasm), Morris was ready for a fight (the rest of the band looked bored with his rants). But all the crowd wanted to do was rock, and when OFF! eventually did, the venue became electrified with energy.
Performing quick and pulsating tracks was what people came to see, and when these moments did occur, the concert-goers became moshing fiends. Without hesitation, they would recklessly leap onto the stage only to dive back into the crowd to surf above outstretched hands.
When the band remained focused on the music, the show truly embodied the essence of a punk rock event. As colorful as Morris’ conversations were, they seemed to detract from the overall energy of the show. But, hey, who really wants an 18 minute gig?