800 ACRES OF HILLS, THRILLS, and CHILLS, LITERALLY
Temecula, CA – On a clear day commanded by Jack Frost, the wind god of winter, several thousand young, old, and middle-aged, mild-mannered weekend punks like myself, headed over to the Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park, a 800-acre hilly area bigger than Coachella. Though around these parts for awhile, this was the motorsports park first venture into live music shows. The show wasn’t an official Vault Concerts production, but my friend Ivan, still smiling from having gotten his groove back, was essential in promoting the show’s two week window. When Ivan remarked to the head talent buyer, “I know these punks (from having hosted the long running Legends of Punk series at The Vault)”, the buyer replied, “You know all these punks?”
That was my cue to say, “No, but they all know Ivan.”
Looking past my sensationalized Huffington Post style headline, the Jack Frost part is true. The weather, although sunny, reminded me of the 115th Kentucky Derby. It was so cold – how cold was it? It was so cold* that they were giving the horses Texas chili to eat by post time. The wind, which didn’t die down almost until the headliners, the Misfits, went on, had some performers warming their hands under their armpits between songs. But the show must go on, and it did in fine fashion.
Punk legends the Misfits jack-hammered through their live set, professionally, and did it to an eye-ball blistering stage light show. The trio, featuring the original bass/frontman, rolled thunder starting with the tour/title track, The Devil’s Rain and several other recent songs before asking the pumped crowd, “Do you want to hear some of the old stuff?”
Pounding off song, then title, 1,2,3, song, repeat, the crowd shook any remaining icicles as the band behind the tee shirts I’ve seen at countless Vault punk shows proved why they are headliners. The mix of punk and metal, performed in KISS/ICP punk fashion style certainly showed me why the group commands such a following. Many familiar Vault punks, some with liberty spikes, were in attendance.
Tour shirts listed tour stop “11/10/12 Lake Elsinore, CA @ L.E. Motorsports Park”. However two shows on the back list were cancelled when Sandy hit back east, and merch man Ken said a roadie, some band members, and he himself had been personally touched by the devastation of the storm surge flooding along the Jersey shoreline.
Tour mates from 10/18-11/19 are The Attack, a no-nonsense east coast punk sound tinged with screams, opened the show in earnest with a short but heartfelt take-no-prisoners set. Local band Not4You brought in their fan base which thumped up the crowd. Then Guttermouth, a Vault alum turned the place out with a killer set, nearly starting a riot when their performance was shorter than the audience wanted. We’re talking punks here. But Jack Frost wasn’t taking much shit, so there wasn’t much.
People continued to stream in as Strung Out put in a solid show but Jack Frost was kicking ass. For my days spent with The Spoonbills I know how a ‘freezing your ass off show’ is different from a ‘hot sweaty indoors’ gig. Strung Out is another Vault alum.
Covering music is different from listening to music so only two bands had I heard before. Musically, The Vandals stood out as the surprise of the night. Reminding me of a Reel Big Fish sans the ska factor, The Vandals’ songs were humorous, catchy, and home-spun. The Vans onstage were also probably the chill-est group, looking like the Beach Boys in dress code next to the Misfits.
Tearing down after the public left, leaving the venue was a lot quicker than Glen Helen and a lot smoother. The entire event and christening of the L.E. Motorsports Park as an outdoor venue was a successful first step, despite Mr. Frost.
(*-On May 6, 1989 sleet was observed from 1:01pm to 1:05pm, Nat. Weather Service, Louisville, KY)