Keith Morris is a beast. From The Circle Jerks to Black Flag to OFF!, Keith has done so much for the punk scene and is one of those people that I truly admire for not only the music he makes but also his clearly unwavering work ethic. I most recently had the honor of seeing Keith perform when he came through town last March and it was a dream come true. Sure, I had seen The Circle Jerks back in September of 2021 at Punk Rock Bowling but that was weird because we were just coming out of the brunt of the pandemic and, well, it was a festival. Seeing Keith perform in the more intimate and more comfortable setting of First Avenue last March was a dream come true and having the opportunity to see him again on Friday night in the form of OFF! and in the even more intimate setting of The Turf Club in Saint Paul had me beyond thrilled and excited.
Before we get into OFF!’s set, let’s talk about the local opening band, Surrogates. I watched with intrigue as vocalist Lulu pulled knee pads as the three other members of this band took their spots behind their respective instruments. I started to speculate about why the knee pads may be on but it didn’t take long for me to find out the real reason. By the time the band had leaped into the second track of their unrelenting set full of grind-leaning punk music, Lulu had hopped off the stage and made herself perfectly comfortable in the audience. She spent the majority of the quick set on the floor surrounded by fans while the rest of the band stayed on stage and kept the music pumping.
Sure, this is not the first time that I’ve seen a vocalist spend time in the crowd but there was something different about how Lulu spent her time down there. She was getting in people’s faces while shouting incoherent lyrics. Although it was literally “in-your-face” there was something oddly non-confrontational about her set yet there was something super abrasive about the performance. What I’m trying to say is Lulu had me the palm of her hand throughout the set and I was too scared to move but also didn’t want to blink for fear of missing a single moment of their set.
Surrogates’ set was short and clocked in right around thirty minutes. Although the quick set left the band members clearly sweaty and a bit exhausted, I was left wanting so much more from this band. I would kill to see this band at an excellent ol’ fashioned house show. That’s the vibe they had and although they didn’t sacrifice that vibe at all when playing at The Turf Club, I just feel like their sound and overall performance is meant to be seen in a more grungy setting.
Clearly, I was enamored by Surrogates and had forgotten why I was really out at The Turf Club on Friday night– OFF!. As mentioned, OFF! is a project fronted by the legendary Keith Morris but he’s not the only legend in this band. OFF! is a bit of a punk supergroup as it also features Demitri Coats from Burning Brides. Up until 2021, the band also featured members of Rocket From The Crypt and Redd Kross. Although it’s down to just the two original members (Keith and Demitri), the sound of OFF! has not changed a bit. Their set on Friday night was full of their signature quick, fast, and dirty punk songs that rang throughout the building and beyond.
I can’t tell you what songs the band played or even how many but it had to have been around four hundred songs in the one hour the band spent on stage. Okay, that’s dramatic but, in true punk fashion, every song performed on Friday seemed to quickly blend into the next creating a constant onslaught of power and aggression. I was expecting a crowd that would mirror this angst and energy but, instead, was surrounded by an audience that was clearly just thrilled to have the opportunity to see such a legendary band in such an intimate space. Sure, there were some people really getting into it and pushing and shoving their way through the songs but the majority of the audience could be seen just standing there with their eyes glued to the stage while nodding along to the quick-paced beats.
Friday night’s show was sold out and I truly hope you were one of the lucky ones to get a ticket in time but, if not, Keith will be back in June when The Circle Jerks plays with The Descendents at The Palace Theatre in Saint Paul. I will obviously be there and am already looking forward to it but it will not have the same intimate feeling as seeing OFF! at The Turf Club. It was just one of those “pinch me, I must be dreaming” kind of moments that I will never forget about.
Venue: The Turf Club
Smell-O-Meter: Nothing Notable
Average Age of the Crowd: 45
Crowd Surfers- None Spotted
Stage Divers- None
Mosh-ability- 6 out of 10
Sausage-Fest Meter- 8 out of 10
Amount of Beer Spilled On Me While Walking Around- $0
Broken Bones- None
Spotted Flying Through The Air- Nothing
Fights- None Witnessed
Passed Out Kids- 0
Idiots Taken Out By Security – 0
How Irritated I Was With The Audience – 0 out of 10
How Many Times I’ve Seen These Bands Before (or at least how many times I can remember)-
Surrogates – 0
OFF! – 0
Celebrity Sightings – None
Overall Score – 8.4 out of 10
Show on Deck — KT Tunstall / Martin Sexton
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