With the legendary Darby Crash long deceased, however, you might wonder who was rocking the mic. The answer? Shane West!
Yes, that’s right: This Shane West.
Skeptical as I was, however, West quickly won over those in the crowd who weren’t already turned on to his recent transformation. The self-professed “lifelong punk rock fan” gives a solid performance in the coming-soon movie, and onstage he’s nothing short of a force to be reckoned with.
The lights went down shortly after 11 p.m. at L.A. nightclub Element, and surviving Germs members Pat Smear, Lorna Doom and Don Bolles took their positions. Soon enough, West began belting out ear-punishing classics like “Circle One” and “We Must Bleed,” most in 90-second outbursts of fury. The crowd was a mix of Hollywood royalty (Kristen Bell and “Secret” star Bijou Phillips) and black-leather-clad old-schoolers.
“This is the wettest stage I’ve ever been on,” West screamed into the mic, acknowledging the beer bottles flying around. “I’ll probably break my neck tonight!”
Although the “A Walk to Remember” heartthrob resisted such old Darby tricks as cutting himself with broken glass, West did risk body and soul by climbing up on various speakers, encouraging fans to stagedive, and working the mosh pit into a frenzy.
“Everybody grab your dancing partners,” he shouted at one point, as the Germs counted off their next number. “This is a ballad.”
But sure enough, the song was “No God” — which probably won’t be appearing on a Mandy Moore soundtrack anytime soon. Drinking, smoking and sporting a goatee, the unlikely anarchist gave Phillips a kiss on the forehead while she stood in the front row, then promptly returned to channeling the punk pioneer he plays in the flick.
Twenty-seven years after Darby’s suicide, West has been accepted by an audience notoriously closed-minded toward such lineup changes. The actor has been on tour over the last few months with the remaining original Germs lineup, and seemed right at home on the beer-and-spit-soaked stage.
At one of the concert’s loudest points, as the movie version of Darby Crash closed out a lyric, West went over to the still-playing Lorna and Pat and wrapped his microphone cord around them, sealing the trio up like a little family.
Still feeling the buzz after the premiere of their intense, tender biopic, it couldn’t have been any more appropriate.