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The Damned close out the first night of Chaos in Tejas

Staff Writer
Austin 360

By Peter Mongillo

Editor’s note: This article was originally published May 31, 2013

The Damned closed out the first night of Chaos in Tejas Thursday at 11E5, the former Tops Office Supply building on East Fifth Street, with a 90-minute set that included plenty of their most popular songs, covers and an unexpected second encore to a half-full room.

The band, which formed in the mid-1970s and is credited with releasing the first punk single in the UK, “New Rose,” played as part of a big first night bill that also included The Marked Men, The Casualties, Iceage, Bloodkrow Butcher and the Impalers. By the time the Damned — consisting of guitarist Captain Sensible, singer Dave Vanian, weirdo keyboardist Monty Oxy Moron, drummer Pinch and bassist Stu West — hit the stage around 11:15, the unfinished warehouse was at capacity. Since there wasn’t much ventilation, it was also very hot.

On songs including “Plan 9 Channel 7,” guitarist Captain Sensible — sporting a “Where’s Waldo”-like sweater with the word “freak” patched on the front, filled the room with screeching solos that ricocheted off the walls inside the cavernous room. He also accounted for a good deal of the night’s (hard-to-understand) stage banter, which included thoughts on beer, the band’s history, other bands and online freedom: “They’re trying to shut down the Internet as well, so (expletive) them,” he said before “Democracy?”

Dracula doppelganger/lead singer Vanian, with his slick, dark hair, black gloves, suit jacket and dark sunglasses alternated between rock and roll singer and creepy crooner, rising high for a big cover of Love’s “Alone Again Or” and the weird, dramatic “Eloise.”

A rumbling “New Rose” set the room off, as did “Neat Neat Neat”; Captain Sensible and Vanian led the crowd in a singalong on a spooky “Ignite,” which closed out the set. They returned for an encore that included an explosive “Melody Lee” and “Stretcher Case Baby,” with Pinch standing out on the drums. After “Nasty,” Sensible asked the crowd — to a big response — if they wanted to hear “Smash It Up;” he answered with the show tune “Happy Talk” before giving them what they wanted.

Finally, after at least half of the room cleared out at what was understood as the end of the night, the band returned a second time for the MC5’s “Looking At You” as well as some nice words about Austin, with the remaining fans responding in kind.