Live: Misfits Frighten Fans Into Submission

With the help of two opening acts, band spooks crowd with their maniacal musical ways.

OSAKA, Japan -- On the outer part of Osaka there stands the most

spectacularly enormous ferris wheel you've never seen (unless you've been over

here).

It's so big you have to take an elevator two stories just to board it. It's

sleek, modern and gives the surrounding area a futuristic carnival atmosphere

even though it is the only such attraction in the area.

The only one, that is, until Bayside Jenny opened its doors Tuesday night.

The Misfits, along with two kindred opening acts, did their best to

transform the small hall into a sideshow of dark chaos that night. The second

band, a spirited Japanese quartet of lanky rabel-rousers called Balzac, started

things off by blasting out a brief and powerful set of chant-laden tunes.

Unfortunately, my limited understanding of Japanese doesn't cover lyrics, so I

was left to lose myself in the power of their awesome presence.

Their energy, contrasted by universally recognizable spoken-modesty, had my and

most of my fellow dungeon-dwellers' full attention.

Moments after they disappeared, a guitar dirge shattered the house mix

and the crowd jerked a glance at the stage. It was good old Mr. Death, dressed

in the typical, simple, elegance of a deep-purple-hooded robe. To the delight

of the J-youth quickly amassing at the foot of the stage, he strolled about

with

a candelabra, beckoning them forward.

An invitation they would accept shortly and with great vigor. After stepping

out of sight for a second, he re-emerged with his chain-bound captive, which as

luck would have it was Misfits' vocalist Michale Graves.

Apparently against his will, Graves was being hauled in agony to pay his

penance of thrash, stomp and bellow to his ravenous nemeses -- namely his

audience.

He writhed in resistance briefly, but as soon as his brawny, ax-toting henchmen

(both dressed as torture-chamber employees) took position at his flanks, he

embraced his ordeal with grave determination. Then, as he probably knew, there

was no hope of return.

The stage became a place no longer safe for the likes of him. That realm where

most vocalists find sanctuary was instead a world of pandemonium and uncertainty.

The flood of bodies onto the stage was constant and pervasive. It only varied in

volume as a reaction to the song at-hand.

Despite the obstructions, he launched into the usual mix of songs off the new

release, American Psycho, interspersed with old favorites. Highlights,

as measured by bodies willingly leaping from the stage into the pit of dispair,

were "Speak of the Devil" and "Mommy Can I Go Out and Kill..."

Bassist Jerry Only seemed slightly apologetic when he introduced an old one that

was clearly rockabilly inspired.

He probably wasn't aware that he was playing to an audience of the most polite

kids on the planet.

Also, it was refreshing amid the hyper-frenzy.

There was a three-song encore, where the singer for Balzac and various

audience members were invited to help project the lyrics amid the insanity.

At last, the show ended with a heartfelt "we love you" from the gentle-giant

bassist for a band that seems to frighten as much as it rocks. But perhaps we

shouldn't fear the Misfits.

That is, of course, when they're not playing. [Mon.,

Dec. 15, 1997 9 a.m. PST]