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
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
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
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]