Eugene Weekly : Music : 1.17.08

Jerkin’ Around
Circle Jerks get all wound up at WOW Hall

Circle Jerks, Hit Me Back, Last of the Believers. 9 pm Sunday, 1/20. WOW Hall -$14

I could tell you to go see the Circle Jerks because they were one of a handful of seminal hardcore punk bands that sprang up in L.A. in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Keith Morris sang for Black Flag before leaving and forming the Circle Jerks, whose first album, Group Sex, came out — egads — 27 years ago. Southern California at that time was exploding with rage and talent. No one can talk about the punk scene there and at that time without crediting Black Flag, X, Dead Kennedys and Circle Jerks. (Don’t send me hate mail — I know I’m leaving lots of bands out.)

I could also tell you to go see them because they were featured in the classic punk documentary The Decline of Western Civilization, with five songs from Group Sex on the soundtrack. Maybe you would be intrigued if you knew they had two songs on the Repo Man soundtrack and one in Sid & Nancy. But focusing on their past makes the Circle Jerks sound like they’re artifacts whose place is less on stage than in the pages of a coffee table book.

Aside from some periods of inactivity due to health concerns, rehab and lack of band members, the group has remained surprisingly, um, active. Keith Morris (vocals), Greg Hetson (guitar) and bassist Zander Schloss have been the band’s core almost since the beginning (Schloss joined in 1984 or so). They and drummer Kevin Fitzgerald (who joined in 2000) have been playing fairly often in recent years, and their shows cover the whole Circle Jerks catalog, with some Black Flag songs usually ending the set. Though the Jerks haven’t released a studio album since 1995, one is supposedly planned, and they do have a song, “I’m Gonna Live,” in the upcoming Jackass video game. And while that song will entertain a whole new generation of kids, the Circle Jerks aren’t made up MTV pretty boy punk rock. In early 2007 the shoe company Vans released a line of skate shoes adorned with Circle Jerks album art. It’s true! Though the shoes would only truly be cool if they chose the urinal from Golden Shower of Hits instead of the people from Group Sex. You could go see the Circle Jerks because they influenced countless other hardcore bands. Blah blah fecking blah. Just go see the Circle Jerks because they are one of the greatest, most fun bands ever, OK?