The Distillers at Fox Theater, by William Wayland
The Distillers (photo: William Wayland)

Words by Elaine Blakely

“In a city that swells with so much hate, you seem to rise above and take its place.” the Distillers are back together and on tour for the first time in almost 15 years since their release of Coral Fang . Driving mania and nostalgia on a Friday night at the Fox Theater in Oakland, fans shared the reunion of their favorite punk band.

Lead singer, rhythm guitarist, and songwriter Brody Dalle, the most ferociously talented front woman in the punk and hardcore scene, along with Andy Granelli on drums, Tony Bevilacqua on lead guitar, and bassist Ryan Sinn have set out to tour down the West Coast breaking ground in Vancouver and wrapping up in Las Vegas.

Flashing illuminated silver cave-like pillars set the stage for Dalle, who screamed low and hard while strumming her guitar as fast as the pulsating strobe lights. As the band tore out one favorite after another, fans slam-danced, surfed the crowd, and sang every lyric with vengeance, angst, and devoted love to the beat of Granelli’s grinding drums. All of this action created a grand sense of camaraderie with fans, who hugged and sang into each other’s faces celebrating the the Distillers’ reunion tour.

Opening for the Distillers was LA-based glam band Starcrawler, which starred drummer Austin Smith, lead singer Arrow de Wilde, guitarist Henri Cash, and bassist Tim Franco. Starcrawler are signed to Rough Trade and just released their debut self-titled LP this year.

With half the band still in their teens, Starcrawler is a 1970s throwback with fast-paced bass runs, blood theatrics like Alice Cooper, drumming with plenty o’ cymbals, and good ol’ guitar solos, making their debut LP this writer’s nomination for best of 2018.

De Wilde and guitarist Cash duetted on songs centering on all-girls’ schools, heartbreak, and giving head while guitarist Cash confidently rode speaker stacks while picking out riffs and solos like a young Jack White.

The highlight of their performance was “Chicken Woman”, supposedly about a woman who takes her chickens in a shopping cart to the slaughterhouse, which demonstrated the power of the band’s theatrics as De Wilde spouted blood out of her mouth and crawled off stage in a hospital gown to spook bouncers and fans.

Starcrawler is booked solid for the remaining 2018, and will be playing next month at the Regency Ballroom.