Twenty-five years ago today—on December 1, 1990—Vancouver punk legends D.O.A. played the Commodore Ballroom in what was originally being billed as their last show ever.
Now, I've always had a lotta respect for D.O.A. founder Joey "Shithead" Keithley and his DIY, take action, fight-the-power, no-bullshit ethic.
But isn't D.O.A. still going strong today?
I guess he meant the final show with that particular lineup.
Anyway, here's my review of that "final show", which was published in the Georgia Straight on December 6, 1990.
Homing in on the Commodore to witness what should have been a historic event in the annals of Vancouver rock—the last ever show by legendary local punkers D.O.A.—what do I see but a sign taped to the Granville venue’s door: “Sold out—second show added Dec. 13”.
Say what!? Could it be that D.O.A. leader Joey Keithley was postponing the band’s final show so he could pocket a little cash for the future? Not likely. As is wont with the socially conscious Keithley, he decided to do one last show as a benefit for the Food Bank—and for those die-hard fans who couldn’t get tickets to the band’s original goodbye.
That’s the D.O.A. way.
Judging from the killer show last Saturday (December 1) by Keithley and his mates—who really did play like it was their last hurrah—the final final gig on the 13th should be another must-see. In front of a number of backdrops—an American flag with D.O.A. scrawled across it, an image of Jesus Christ with D.O.A. across the eyes—the band made its (next-to) last stand in front of a mob of maniac slam-dancers and a never-ending queue of stage-divers.
“Don’t throw beer cans up here or we’ll come down there and beat the fuckin’ shit out of you!” grumbled Joey, ever the softie, after the first of many ear-bustin’ punk classics. “Hey dude, ya gotta go!” he informed one stage-diver before giving him a friendly shove and ripping into “a song about three things you can never get rid of”—“Guns, Booze & Sex”.
“Tim-brrrr!” cried Keithley as he brought out a wee chain-saw for “Lumberjack City”, holding it close to the microphone so diligent fans could tell the difference between its growl and that of his cranked Gibson guitar.
Joey’s fashions for the evening included a black t-shirt bearing the insignia of one of the band’s many record labels, Alternative Tentacles. Bassist Brian Goble and guitarist Chris Prohom (ex-Dayglo Abortions) opted for similarly stylish checked flannel work shirts. Jon Card’s winter look was built around a white undershirt, which emphasized the drummer’s sinewy, percussion-honed arms .
“Goodnight, and see ya all for the next last show,” announced Keithley at the end of the band’s regular set, but the familiar D.O.A. chant went up right away and the group returned for the first of four encores, the last of which took place with the house lights on and half the band’s microphones already packed away. The encores included unbeatable covers of BTO’s “Takin’ Care of Business” and Roger Miller’s “King of the Road”, as well as maybe the all-time D.O.A. tune, “General Strike”.
“D.O.A.’s not about looking back or feeling nostalgic,” said Keithley, laying down the positive principle that his politically motivated band’s been living by for the last 12 tumultuous years. “It’s about looking forward to something better.”