Rock and roll has always been about the new and the exciting. Not in a short-attention-span sort of way, but in an almost Buddist sense: The only constant is change, and it should be embraced as an emotional thrill ride. That concept was in play at Reef on Friday night. The show was sold out. But it may not have been the headliner, longtime punkers Voodoo Glow Skulls, doing the draw.
The band the audience seemed most interested in was Arizona’s Authority Zero, whose blitzkrieg-blend of hardcore and ska have earned them a rabid following. And from the energy of their live show, it was easy to see why. Vocalist Jason DeVore made an earnest attempt to swing from the rafters at Reef, but the bamboo above the stage wasn’t sturdy enough to encourage a second. Instead he jumped and gyrated, stage-diving several times and leading the audience in something of a punk-rock revival.
The audience certainly wasn’t there for Denver’s Skyfox. Their set was straight out of a 1997 WB Teen drama. They spit sugary pop-punk out of their potty mouths with songs about easy girls at religious schools and all sorts of bodily functions. They even covered the Blink 182 track from the Short Music for Short People compilation, which is just George Carlin’s seven dirty words sung in harmony for 30 seconds. Why? No one may ever know. Had it been the mid-90s, Skyfox still would have been derivative.
And it didn’t appear that the major draw was VGS, either. Complete with a horn section and more than 20 years of experience onstage, the band hit the stage hard, blasting out a mix of Latino-influenced ska and hardcore. Singer Frank Casillas started the set wearing a Mexican wrestling mask but had to lose it within the first several songs from the heat. The horn section was rocking so hard that this reporter was nearly cold-cocked by seventh position on the trombone several times. It was so gloriously rowdy that a line of police were waiting outside Reef. Their target: a 5-foot-4 girl who had been tearing up the pit. She was led away in cuffs while the band played on. Epic epics of epicness, especially for a Tiki lounge.
But the rock-and-roll guard was changing. About a third of the audience had split after Authority Zero. Some of the murmurs overheard indicated they didn’t even know who VGS was.
It didn’t look like it mattered to the band one bit. Despite the irritating drunk who kept crawling onstage and the combover of a crowd, they looked like they were having a great time.