Agent Orange Sneaky Dee's, Toronto ON March 3

Agent Orange Sneaky Dee's, Toronto ON March 3
Agent Orange are the Rodney Dangerfields of pop punk. Despite having basically forged the genre on their own circa 1979 by coupling then-fledgling punk rock with Dick Dale-ish surf music to create an upbeat, bouncy and aggressive bastard child, the trio have never been given the respect they deserve. They've been pretty much forgotten/ignored by the majority of punks.

The same thing almost happened on this borderline-frigid evening as well. Having been scheduled to perform at a reasonable time of 11:15 p.m., original vocalist/guitarist Mike Palm and latest recruits Dusty Watson (drums) and Perry Gx (bass) hadn't set a foot in the door of half-packed Sneaky Dee's by midnight. Tension ran decidedly high as the mixed-bag of attendees wondered if they'd been suckered out of their $15.

Yet as Palm advised after rolling in and getting underway in record time (with the assistance of a few diehards, they had loaded gear and set up by 12:15), apparently it takes quite a while to get from Thunder Bay to Toronto, especially during the winter. Go figure.

Regardless, even with their instruments - and presumably bodies - still thawing out, the trio wasted little more time, tearing into opener "Pipeline" and raucously hammering out renditions of favoured covers and originals including "Secret Agent Man," and other selections from their decidedly un-prodigous output of three albums: Living In Darkness, This Is The Voice and Virtually Indestructible respectively. Of course, instrumental favourite "Miserlou" and trademark tune "Bloodstains" were must-plays which they nailed with amazing precision and enthusiasm.

Unsurprising but still entertaining, the show was modest justification that although Agent Orange have not released any new material since 1996, they still know how to deliver. As per their claims, they might be bashing away at the same old songs for 30 years but now it's harder, faster and tighter than ever before.