I have never seen Redd Kross live, nor do I own a Redd Kross record. This confession may result in the removal of any punk cred I may think I have.
I did not know what to expect from the band’s Friday, Aug. 7, show at Pappy and Harriet’s, but I envisioned something in line with contemporaries like Black Flag. I even came prepared by bringing a little muscle in the form of a friend who is a paralegal by day, and a rock photographer by night: I did not want to repeat the Jello Biafra show incident of 2013, which resulted in me getting up close and personal with a speaker monitor, and my eyeglasses becoming a Frisbee.
Entering through a side door was tall lead vocalist and guitarist Jeff McDonald; he has long, flowing hair that would make Peter Burns of Dead or Alive envious.
“This is our Partridge Family show, our roadhouse show,” he told the Pappy’s crowd.
The start of the set featured more of a mellow rock sound, with teases of distortion and cool riffs that gave one the feeling the band was going to ease into the weighty stuff. Opening with glam and power-pop tunes was fine with me, since my trusty new assistant was MIA.
A husky bearded guy in the audience yelled, “You guys are hot!” Steve McDonald replied: “Let’s get hotter.” Jeff McDonald chimed in: “Such a good vibe here.”
I was hooked after a few notes, thinking: How in the hell have I missed Redd Kross? Jeff McDonald’s hair flung about as he and his brother slayed with intensity, putting to shame modern faux-punk bands which are all hat but no cowboy.
Redd Kross killed it, which was not surprising to the many familiar fans in attendance, who joined the choruses of most of their songs. The 13-plus-song set included “Switchblade Sister,” Annie’s Gone” and “Frosted Flake.”
Toward the end of the show, Steve McDonald mentioned the band had a couple more songs to do. “Do you want mellow or heavy?” he asked. The prompt response: Multiple yells for “heavy.” Redd Kross responded with “Linda Blair,” from Redd Kross’ first LP, Born Innocent, first issued back in 1982, and which was recently re-released via cassette by way of Burger/Frontier Records. Yes, cassettes.
My only disappointment from the show was that Redd Kross had not previously been part of my punk-rock catalog.