Ah, it’s December again. Here in Southern California, December means twinkle lights in the palm trees, 60 degree weather, and the certainty of one major holiday tradition – The Vandals‘ Christmas Formal. Now in its 21st year, the Christmas Formal has become a bigger and better tradition every year, with both “formal”wear and Christmas onesies encouraged, a photo booth, and a “Christmas punch” at the bar (which sadly sold out within the first hour). 2016 marked a venue change – to the City National Grove of Anaheim. Personally, I loved the new setup – bigger venue, bigger stage, more room to move around, and a more spacious bar/merch/photo booth area. The Christmas decorations still adorned the stage, including the suspended carousel, inflatable snowman, and mountains of wrapped presents and piñatas.
Openers for the evening included Sharp/Shock and The Interrupters. Due to LA traffic, made 10 times worst by the constant rain all day Friday, I arrived during The Interrupters set in time to see them play, but not early enough to shoot them. They are a DyingScene favorite, and you can check out shots from some previous shows here and here.
At last, The Vandals (with Josh Freese on drums this year!) took the stage to the Oi To The World overture and kicked it into high gear for all of their Christmas classics. Despite battling the flu (and still wearing his tuxedo t-shirt that makes an appearance every year), Dave Quackenbush still managed to make it on the stage and give the crowd one hell of a show. After they played a majority of the songs from the Christmas album, they entertained the crowd with a few other select favorites, like “Anarchy Burger,” “People That Are Going To Hell,” “I’ve Got An Ape Drape,” “And Now We Dance,” and “My Girlfriend’s Dead.”
Fans who come every year know how the encore will go – Warren will sing “Hang Myself from the Tree” and “Don’t Stop Me Now” before the band finishes with a giant sing-a-long of “Oi To The World.” This year was no different in terms of the encore setlist, but, as always, Warren can be hard to predict when it comes to his stage presence. “Don’t Stop Me Now” tends to have a musical interlude where Warren entertains the crowd – this year, it included destroying all of the gifts on the stage, smashing the piñatas with his body (not the stick that Dave brought him) and throwing the pieces into the crowd, running around with the giant Santa boot piñata on his foot, and pulling the inflatable snowman across the stage, eventually having it collapse in front of Josh Freese’s drum set. The Grove of Anaheim has monitors on the side of the stage, so everyone was able to see the antics in real-time, and it was pretty amazing. This is gonna be the best Christmas ever!
It’s always a pleasure to celebrate Christmas with The Vandals and shoot the show for DyingScene. Check out our full gallery below and we’ll see you in 2017!