Written and Photographed by Angel Park
The Circle Jerks are an American punk band formed in 1979 in Hermosa Beach, California. They are arguably one of the pioneer bands of hardcore punk, and this past weekend, t
hey played to a sold-out crowd at Philly’s TLA along with support bands 7Seconds and Negative Approach. This show was postponed twice due to the global lockdown, and lead vocalist Keith Morris testing positive for COVID. Both fans, young and old, have been highly anticipating this show for a long time. It was not only a reunion of sorts but also a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the band’s acclaimed 1980’s album, “Group Sex.”
The room was packed wall to wall as opener Negative Approach kicked off the evening a bit after 8. Initially formed in 1981, this band quickly became well known in the genre for its fast-paced and aggressive sound. Vocalist John Brannon‘s harsh growls combined with the melody and beats provided by guitarist Harry Richardson, bassist Ron Sakowski, and drummer John Lehl had the crowd moving in the circle pit and even crowd surfing right from the start. The group riffed through old hits like “Can’t Tell No One,” “Dead Stop,” and “Nothing,” they included covers such as “I Got A Right” by Iggy and the Stooges. While there was very little banter between songs, Negative Approach delivered a fantastic set with everyone in the room headbanging.
Following Negative Approach was Reno, Nevada-based punk group 7Seconds. The band is led by vocalist Kevin Seconds, alongside bassist Steve Youth, drummer Tory Mowat, and guitarist Bobby Adams. Their set started with an outpouring of gratitude from Kevin to the crowd for attending the show that night, with him proclaiming that Philly is truly ‘near and dear to them in terms of favorite places to tour. Without missing a beat, 7Seconds performed a crowd-pleasing set with notable songs such as “We’re Gonna Fight,” “Leave The Light On,” and “Trust.” Throughout the night, the crowd sang and yelled along, with enthusiastic crowd surfers moving their way toward the front in support of the band’s unmatched live energy.
Lastly, armed with his signature dreads, old-school wit, and endless sarcasm, frontman (and former Black Flag vocalist) Keith Morrison started with a hilarious story about the trials and tribulations it took to get their tour on the road. The crowd cheered throughout his tale and got even rowdier as the band started playing. The room went wild while they played favorites such as “Wild in the Streets,” “When the S*** Hits the Fan,” and “World Up My A**.” To see them play with the same energy, Circle Jerks had during their earlier years. Performing live, they provided something special for both OG and younger fans across the board, and even for someone like me who is new to the Punk scene as a whole, the experience served as a great, immersive experience into the genre.
The Circle Jerks are currently still on the road; I encourage you to see them; you won’t be sorry you did. Tickets for their 40th-Anniversary shows can be purchased here.