POP MUSIC REVIEWS : Touch of Irony: Pennywise, Joykiller

Did you think it was sad that Jerry Garcia died? Pennywise and the Joykiller apparently didn’t, as both bands aimed jabs at the recently deceased leader of the Grateful Dead and the hippie ideals he stood for during their sets at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on Friday.

How punk.

These two Southern California bands are clearly on the far side of the music spectrum from the Dead, with their short, fiery songs and anti-everything attitudes--and they weren’t afraid to show it.

The irony of the whole scenario, though, was that Pennywise managed to pull off a truly impressive, high-speed version of the Dead’s “Touch of Grey,” but then fumbled through the classic Minor Threat punk anthem “Minor Threat.” What this says is open to interpretation, but it did make one thing clear--Pennywise’s members should maybe talk less and play more.


In between all the chatter, Pennywise played an energetic, angry set that periodically spawned some of the largest, most chaotic mosh pits since the ‘80s. While the sound occasionally edged a bit too close to death metal, Pennywise kept the rhythms and the energy in the purest of punk styles. And that was all the show required.

The Joykiller, featuring punk veteran Jack Grisham, fared equally well, giving the mostly teen-age crowd an idea of what anthemic, ska-less punk in the fashion of the Exploited or Grisham’s old band T.S.O.L. had (and has) to offer.