When I was a teenager in the 1980s, I read a rave review of a just-released TSOL album in which the critic said something like, “This is where all the exciting music will be coming from in the years ahead — from hardcore bands that are maturing.” I thought that sounded cool, so I sought out the TSOL album — I can’t remember which one it was. I didn’t like it. It was from the mid-’80s version of the band, when it was led by singer Joe Wood. That’s the version of TSOL that branched away from its punk and death-rock roots and turned heavy metal. The Guns N’ Roses guys were fans of that version of the band. As for me, I guess I liked my hardcore bands immature.
Fortunately for childish dorks like me, the more or less original version of the band has reunited with original vocalist Jack Grisham, onboard to sing songs about politics and identity with refreshingly lowbrow titles such as “Fuck You Tough Guy.” This is at least the second time the band has reunited. They tried it in the ’90s, when they won a battle with Joe Wood over who had the rights to the name.
Would anyone have thought in 1979 that this scrappy little band from Long Beach would be playing shows more than 30 years later? Hell, no. For a number of years it looked as if the individual members wouldn’t survive their drug problems and run-ins with the law. They’ve long since cleaned up their act, but their sound is still raw and ragged. Just the way it ought to be.
Youth Brigade and Rats Eyes also perform.
TSOL: Brick by Brick, Friday, January 7, 8 p.m. 619-275-5483. $18.