If there’s one thing a fan of The Vandals knows, it’s that they commit to a theme. Anyone who has been to one of their legendary Christmas Formals has witnessed spinning inflatable reindeer, snow globes, and Dave Quackenbush’s tuxedo tshirt. The Xmas Formal is one of my favorite holiday traditions.
This past July 3rd, The Vandals kicked off the 4th with their “Independence Eve” show at The Glass House in Pomona, CA. Danger Friends USA and Voodoo Glow Skulls opened. Thanks to LA traffic, I made it halfway through the Glow Skulls’ set, but they were full of energy and the crowd was enjoying their kickoff to the holiday weekend.
Throughout the week leading up to the show, The Vandals had been advertising different contests on their Facebook page. Some lucky fans were allowed to arrive early and help decorate the venue for the night (red, white, and blue adorned the bars, stairways, and stage – AND every attendee was handed a small American flag before The Vandals’ set) while a few other fans had their submissions for a lyric contest read on stage (fans were given the chance to rewrite a portion of “Anarchy Burger” and the winning lyrics were incorporated into the song). It’s things like this that make it feel like you are watching your friends just have fun on stage. Throughout the show, the band bantered back and forth and seemed to just genuinely like being up there playing music with each other (even with Quackenbush’s insistence that they just wanted to go home). As an added bonus, Josh Freese was on the drums, fresh off of a tour with Devo!
The band killed it during their set. Any night that opens with a rendition of “America, Fuck Yeah!” from Team America: World Police guarantees that the rest of the night is going to be awesome. The Vandals did not disappoint. They repeatedly asked the crowd for requests and often presented two options and let the cheers decide which song they would play next. Fan favorites included “Cafe 405,” “Take It Back,” and “NIMBY.” The band also cranked out “43210-1,” “The New You,” “People That Are Going To Hell,” “I’ve Got An Ape Drape,” “And Now We Dance,” and “Lady Killer” before ending the regular set with “My Girlfriend’s Dead.” For me, the real highlight was hearing them play “Happy Birthday To Me” live – as well as “Oi To The World” in July (how many more months until the Xmas Formal?!). The encore included both “I’ve Got A Date” and the Queen cover “Don’t Stop Me Now,” both with Warren Fitzgerald on vocals.
I always look forward to a Vandals show and they never disappoint. Luckily, I will be able to see them on the Summer Nationals tour next month. I just hope to hear some new music from them before the end of 2014 – and maybe they’ll play some of it live at the Xmas Formal! Check out the full photo gallery from the Independence Eve show below!
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