Fear live at the El Rey Theatre, 30th May 2013

By on 3 June 2013

Playing 1982’s ‘The Record’ in full, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to catch Fear on home turf. Terrorizer’s Joshua Sindell was at the EL Rey Theatre in Los Angeles…

Fear - El Rey Theatre

A band once thoroughly loathed and, yes, even feared by the Los Angeles scene that birthed them, Fear actively sought controversy and embraced chaos from the moment they first formed, back in 1977. Led by their misogynistic and jingoistic leader, Lee Ving, the band provoked their audiences to then-unheard-of heights of moshing violence, and Ving’s on-and-off-stage pronouncements were “politically incorrect” before there was such a term. But they made a classic album in 1982’s ‘The Record’, and with no less than Dave Grohl giving them props in his ‘Sound City’ documentary, Ving and his latest group of comrades have seen fit to play it in its entirety tonight.The turnout is not all that inspiring… the El Rey has a listed capacity of between 700-800, and it seems like we’re only at half of that by the time Californian stoner punks The Shrine take the stage. The long-haired trio seem to think that the only good music came from the years between 1969 and 1981, and finally provide that much-missed connective tissue between The MC5, Ted Nugent and Black Flag. Fun, but limited in its appeal.

At age 63, sole remaining original member Lee Ving is old enough to have grandfathered more than a few members of this still paltry audience. And, sadly, that’s a big problem: without their thuggish youth, this incarnation is that unhappy buffet of a band long past its sell-by date.

Sure, there’s some fun to be had in singing along to the opening trio of some of their greatest hits – ‘I Love Livin’ In The City’, ‘New York’s Alright If You Like Saxophones’ and ‘I Don’t Care About You’ – but the emotion quickly passes. It doesn’t really matter that the group plays competently (they do), or if Ving’s voice sounds intact after all this time (it does). The belligerence, the danger, the snot, and the venom have all been quelled by time’s merciless passage.

Fear the reaper, indeed.

Words: Joshua Sindell

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