Originally Published February 2, 2012
Authority Zero and Voodoo Glow Skulls :: 01.20.12 :: Slim’s :: San Francisco, CA
|Authority Zero by Annelise Poda|
Authority Zero and Voodoo Glow Skulls brought their co-headlining tour to Slim’s, and they rocked the place late into the night with their speedy, grinding guitar riffs and melodic, clear toned ska interludes. The weather on the night of this show was the classic San Francisco mixture of sudden wind and rain, and everyone arriving through the door fit somewhere on the scale of damp to soaking wet, and all very ready to warm up with a drink and some punk rock rowdiness. Ska is a genre that hasn’t gotten a lot of love from the mainstream music industry in recent years, but the zealous enthusiasm of the crowd at Slim’s proved that the Bay Area punk scene is still packed with wild fanatics, singing the words to every song and getting sweaty while crashing into friends in the pit.
The night’s mayhem began as an organ track of vampire inspired music played through the speakers as the six-members of the Voodoo Glow Skulls swaggered out onto the stage. They grabbed their instruments and shredded out the distorted, well-known riff of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train”, and the crowd pushed to the front of the room and against each other, the beginning stages of a mosh pit already forming. The metal guitar was cut short as the Glow Skulls’ horn section came in and rushed the band away into their set. Frontman Frank Casillas jumped across the stage clad in a menacing Mexican wrestler mask, with his two brothers Eddie and Jorge Casillas flanking him on either side with their breakneck speed guitar and bass playing.
|Voodoo Glow Skulls by Annelise Poda|
The Voodoo Glow Skulls have had a lot of time to perfect their stage show after their formation in 1988, and they have since mastered the art of balancing great instrumentation with an intense stage presence. Frank constantly sang out Spanish and English lyrics in different styles, from choppy ska vocals to heartfelt, drawn out wails at song peaks. Jorge’s bass parts were my favorite part of the music, as he really utilized the whole fretboard and picked out winding, dynamic lines that drove the songs forward and pushed people to dance harder. Trumpet player Mark Bush and trombonist Brodie Johnson played fast and scaling notes in perfect unison, adding that raw, brassy element that bumps the tracks up to the next boisterous level. The audience was most excited about hearing “Charlie Brown”, “Shoot the Moon”, and the band’s upbeat ska cover of “I Wanna Be Like You” from Disney’s Jungle Book, which had everyone singing along. The band dedicated one of their last songs to Jose in the Slim’s kitchen for always cooking them great food when they came through the Bay Area, which I thought was one of the best dedications I’ve heard at a show. He waved through the swinging door from the back as they rocked out in his honor.
Authority Zero wasted no time once they had set up on stage, starting right out with the heavy rocking crowd favorite “A Passage in Time”. The boundless energy of the band’s deep voiced singer Jason DeVore contagiously hit the rest of the audience and both the band and their fans seemed to be fueled by Four Loko for the entire show as the surf punk tunes bled out from the stage. DeVore’s rich voice mellowed considerably during the few slower and more reggae influenced songs of the night, which provided a cool contrast to his usual forceful singing that spares no lungpower. He mentioned that this was their seventh show of a 50-date tour, and that his voice was already strained. He definitely does not hold back in any way, and it’s what makes people go so crazy at Authority Zero shows.
|Authority Zero by Annelise Poda|
Other popular songs were “Over Seasons” and their last song “Superbitch”, where DeVore gathered everyone who said it was their first show ever at the very front of the stage. He said that your first show experience is something that really sticks with you, and that he wanted to make it a memorable night, noting to one of the guys, “You look terrified!” Seeing those kids being pushed up to the front by their friends reminded me how great the feeling of community is amongst colliding strangers at punk shows, and when the band takes it upon themselves to make it a welcoming night for newcomers it heightens that happy, adrenaline-infused feeling exponentially.
The set ended and the crowd immediately started chanting for an encore. DeVore came back out and did a couple acoustic songs to promote their new live album, Less Rhythm More Booze (released January 31). DeVore demonstrated his lyrical prowess when singing the Irish drinking song “Rattlin’ Bog”, where he spat out words faster and impressively faster as the music progressed. Everyone clapped along and it was a great way to end the night while showing a different side to Authority Zero.
If this all sounds like a good time to you, there’s a good chance this tour will be in your city on one of the many upcoming dates. So, grab your Van’s slip-ons and get ready for a rowdy night in the pit with some great veteran ska-punk heavyweights.