Agent Orange w/ Tora Tora Tora, La Vasa & Face First

01/22/11 TRiP – Santa Monica, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito/

For years I have watched my favorite bands cover Agent Orange. My knowledge of Agent Orange ends there. I was a bit shocked when I discovered that the long running So Cal surf punk band was playing a bar six blocks from my home. It’s not that TRiP is a bad bar, but I always assumed it booked gigs for up and coming bands. With nothing else to do on a Saturday night, how could I not head down the hill and check out the Pillage and Plunder Tour featuring Agent Orange?

Tora Tora Tora

I wish I had more back story on Tora Tora Tora. I managed to catch the last few songs of their set and found the band enjoyably confusing. I couldn’t tell if they wanted to be Social D, AFI or Danzig. Perhaps they want to be all three? I briefly spoke to the guitarist at the bar, and if I heard correctly he works at TRiP. I’ll have to keep my eyes open to see if the band ends back up at the corner of Lincoln/Grant.

La Vasa

La Vasa is all about presence. It didn’t matter that the bass player couldn’t keep up with the drummer, nor did it matter that the guitars were out of tune. The goal of the night was free shots of booze for La Vasa. Sadly for them, TRiP is a beer and wine bar. Unless of course you count the nice assortment of rice based hard alcohol available for $4 a shot. After a sloppy version of “Liver Killer” I headed back to the bar to buy the bands front man a shot. I figured it was the least I could do since La Vasa had brought 50% of the audience with them from Santa Barbara. La Vasa may not be the most talented band on the planet, but they are raw fucking energy and a ton of fun. No doubt I would go see them again (and if they play TRiP, perhaps I’ll sneak em a bottle of Crown Royal).

Face First

The only thing nice I have to say about this Florida based band is this. The height and weight differential between the bassist and the guitarist is truly amazing. I am going to guess there is at least a foot different in height and 250 pounds difference in weight. As far as the music goes, Face First should look into getting some lessons if they think they have what it takes to make it. It would help if the band played together in unison. It would also help if they had a vocalist who tried to make his vocals tolerable versus running around in the 5 member mosh pit. I ended up heading to the back of the bar and playing Angry Birds for most of the set. With the night running late, thankfully Face First’s set ended rather quickly.

Agent Orange

Well past Midnight, Agent Orange took the tiny stage at TRiP to share thirty plus years of surf-punk gems. To be totally honest, by this time in the night the scene was a bit depressing. A few fans left early after having multiple drinks knocked over by the 5-7 members of Team Santa Barbara who decided a mosh pit was needed (no objections to a pit, but the venue is not really set up for one). During a set change, I watched a man beg his wife to stay for at least part of the headliners act. With a late start time, she was having none of it and forced her man to leave before Face First took the stage.

Despite the less than stellar crowd, Agent Orange performed as if they were headlining an arena. For 90 minutes the band played a high energy set that was heavy on covers and showcased material that spanned their lengthy career. Lead by Guitarist/Vocalist Mike Palm the group opened the show with the surf classic “Pipeline” and quickly followed with “Everything Turns Grey.”  Palm actually managed to join the mini pit for the first few seconds of “Grey.” Other Agent Orange classics performed include “Secret Agent Man”, “America”, “Tearing Me Apart” & “Bloodstains.”

For a band that I am aware of based off others covering them; Agent Orange used their time at TRiP to play plenty of songs first performed by others.  Songs by Jefferson Airplane (Someone to Love) and Dead Kennedys (Police Truck) and even a cover from an obscure local band called Halibut found their way into the set.

All in all, the band probably played 25 songs including both the A side and the B side from their recent release Halloween single. What most impressed me was the bands attitude and outlook. Its clear Agent Orange never got fame unlike lesser punk acts such as Good Charlotte and Sum 41. However, it’s also clear they don’t really let it affect them. They play for the love of the music which is how it should be. It’s a shame Agent Orange has not gotten the respect they deserve. If it’s any consolidation, they won my respect and transformed me from curious to a fan.

A direct descendant of the outlaw Jesse James and star of a 1983 Kilpatricks Bread radio commercial, Reverend Justito has taken his gift of ADHD and put it to good use by creating one of a kind concert reviews. A bootlegger at heart, the man lives off Whiskey, Taco Bell and the love of San Francisco sports teams.
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Sunday, January 23rd, 2011 at 7:40 pm.
Categories: Reviews.

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