Misfits and She Demons Manifested Mayhem at Water Street Music Hall

Misfits fiends and She Demons devotees got plenty of attitude thrown in their faces Tuesday Oct. 20 at Water Street Music Hall. The two bands stopped in Rochester as part of the Misfits ‘Static Age’ Revisted tour during which they played through the entirety of the 1977 album along with some newer material. A gravelly “Rochester, how the hell are ya tonight?” uttered by She Demons’ Priya Panda (bass/lead vocals) set the stage for an evening bleeding with playful hostility.

Panda leading the all-female group, was joined by Constance Day (guitar), Kiki Wongo (guitar), Alicia Vigil (bass) and Jessica Goodwin. Formed by Misfits frontman Jerry Only, the femme fatales assembled on stage and began their set under the cover of darkness. Stage lights soon illuminated their presence, driving back the shadows that briefly bathed their opening song in mystery.

If there had been a level of authenticity to their performance, it was lost as soon as the lighting exposed their overdone facial expressions. Panda’s growly tone with the crowd seemed forced to the point that she could actually have made herself hoarse from the strain. Though very obviously contrived, maybe even a little eye-roll worthy, their personas fit the bill for a band concocted by the creative hand of Only, who thrives in that fabricated ghoulish environment.

Panda’s comfort level on stage was probably the most genuine aspect of the performance, shamelessly rocking the glam punk rock facade. The swivel of her hips on stage flaunted an undeniable sex appeal. Her hollered vocals were at times strong but more often crept into the realm of cheesy musical status. She redeemed the performance ever so slightly during the last song with a quick acrobatic bend backwards, kicking one leg toward the ceiling, before righting herself in a frenzied hair flip.

As the stage transformed for Misfits to take over, mic stands wrapped in a tangle of plastic skeletal arms and skulls were brought forth. Other skull accouterments accumulated, and before long it looked like a Halloween store had exploded on stage. All that was missing was a healthy tangle of acrylic spider webbing dangling from the light fixtures above.

Once assembled, Misfits, featuring Only (bass/lead vocals), along with son Jerry Caiafa (guitar) and Eric Arce (drums), bulldozed their way through the seventeen song Static Age album. The quick changeover between the collection of short-lived songs (many only last a minute and a half) transmitted a feverish hysteria through the crowd, driving the front mid section to burst into fits of moshing for nearly every tune. One audience member, adorned in a sky-high, well-manicured deep purple mohawk actively engaged in the raucousness, no doubt leaving some to wonder how the hair would survive the experience.

While on the subject of fashion, though some moshers may have been jeopardizing their own aesthetic, those sporting studded leather jackets seemed rather threatening to their thrashing comrades. In the flurry of shouldering and body slamming, there must have been a good handful of people walking out of the venue, sweaty foreheads imprinted with a distinctive pattern of metal shoulder embellishments.

Of course fashion can’t be discussed without mentioning the Misfits’ attire. Father and son both featured the trademark slender spiked proboscises neatly glued to the center of their foreheads. The bulkiness of Only’s structurally intricate black and red vest adorned with a smattering of spikes, straps and a skull on the back collar was mildly reminiscent of a first grader’s over-stuffed backpack on the first day of school.

Not at all restricted, Only strutted around stage, frequently switching sides with Caiafa and leaving no opportunity for their stage presence to stagnate. Underneath the guise of overly styled hair and ghostly makeup was a trio of musicians seeking to provide an authentic punk rock experience to their rambunctious crew of fans. When a gentleman in the crowd pumped his fist to emphasize his enthusiasm, Only smiled, giving a subtle but gracious nod in gratitude.
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