“This place is so awesome,” exclaimed Mike Palm, frontman of Orange County’s legendary surf punk trio Agent Orange last night in the Oriental Theater. “Not like the Bluebird.” His mini-review of another of Denver’s fine venues came just before the band ripped into “Living In Darkness,” one of a 20-song set that lasted a too-short 70 minutes.
Palm, bassist Perry Giodano and drummer Dave Klein, after setting up all of their own equipment, tore through an explosive version of “Miserlou,” followed by hits of theirs like”Too Young to Die” (dedicated to the late Phyllis Diller), “Everything Turns Grey,” “Voices in the Night,” “No Such Thing,” and “El Dorado” before playing west coast hardcore anthem “Bloodstains.”
“This place is so awesome,” exclaimed Mike Palm. “Not like the Bluebird.”
They also played a few covers, including the Weirdos’ “Living in Another World,” Dead Kennedys’ “Police Truck” and their pretty famous cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody To Love.” Meanwhile a modest mosh pit was hard-won by a few dedicated slammers in front of the expansive stage.
Some surprising tunes filled out the list, as well, including “America,” the Tom Waits classic “Whistling Past the Graveyard” and “This House is Haunted” before closing the raucous set with “The Last Goodbye.”
For a group that’s been together and touring in one form or another since 1979, Agent Orange proved they’re no worse for the wear. Palm’s vocals were still strong, as was his signature lightning fast surf punk guitar. Klein and Giordano built a wicked fast, strong rhythm foundation behind Palm that kept the sparsely filled Oriental fist pumping, pogo-ing and slamming. Palm was right about the venue, too – The Oriental’s size is a great boon to any band – and a three-piece like Agent Orange are dwarfed by the huge stage. The sound was spot on, too – something too many local venues seem to get just off.
It’s great to see the acts that are accumulating at the north Denver venue, after many years of minimal booking and multiple owners. Local producer Scott Labarbera seems to be making a strong go of the place once again, as he did a few years ago, before the place changed hands a few times and ended up back under his control.
The show was put on by Girl Wreck Presents. the booking and talent agency started out of the Lions Lair and run by Brandy Darling. Her agency has also taken off this year, booking acts like crazy around Denver as well as the Lions Lair – including bigger punk names like Flipper earlier in the year. Girl Wreck Presents’ focus on local and national punk acts – and much more – is growing into a major force in Denver. Check out their upcoming schedule here.