Exclaim!

The Vandals

House of Blues, Anaheim, CA, December 21

The Vandals
Photo: Jason Schreurs
8
Holidays are all about dumb-ass traditions. And on this tradition, the 17th annual Christmas show by California punk mainstays the Vandals, was all about fun, tomfoolery and punk rock.

For those unfamiliar, the Vandals released one of the best holiday albums ever in 1996 called Oi to the World! Perhaps you've heard No Doubt's version of the title track, but hopefully not, because it sucks. The real deal is a legendary punk rock four-piece playing songs like "Grandpa's Last Xmas," "I Don't Believe in Santa Claus," "My First Xmas (As a Woman)" and "Christmas Time for My Penis." So in celebration of the album, every holiday season the Vandals do a "Christmas Formal," and the past few years it's been at Anaheim's House of Blues, aka the nightclub in Downtown Disney.

Cut to this show. The place was packed, and the stage curtained open to Christmas lights, a tree and decorations adorning the stage. Then the Vandals proceeded to race through their Oi to the World! The funny thing is the album's running time is less than 30 minutes. They even played "I Don't Believe in Santa Claus," in its crusty punk, anti-establishment glory, twice, so guitarist Warren Fitzgerald can "cross it off my bucket list." Singer Dave Quackenbush joked, "A word of warning to all bands who want to play one of their shittiest songs live, twice in a row: don't!"

After the Oi to the World! set was done — highlighted by drummer Josh Freese's dad, Stan guesting as a tuba-playing Santa Claus — the Vandals then ripped through a request-only set of their punk "hits."

With Quackenbush paying attention mostly to the front row's callouts ("The rest of you sound like Charlie Brown's teacher," he quipped), they hit some oldies ("It's a Fact," "My Girlfriend's Dead") and some goodies ("Live Fast, Diarrhea," "Anarchy Burger"). The requisite Vandals stage banter was in full effect, and Fitzgerald brought the house down with his uber-sarcastic and breakdown-heavy version of Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now," which ended the show.

But this night was all about the Christmas songs, and given how great Oi to the World! sounded live, it's a shame they didn't just take Fitzgerald's cue and play the whole fucking album twice. "Oi to the punx / and Oi to the skins / but Oi to the world / and everybody wins."
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