Given how revered the Glenn Danzig-lead incarnation of the Misfits is and how few people had the opportunity to see them in concert during their heyday, it seems more than a bit unusual that there is only one official live album from that era, the rough and ragged Evilive. Thankfully, there are a ton of unofficial releases floating around out there, the latest of which is Wasp Queens, a full 1982 live set from NYC’s Irving Plaza with a radio interview from 1981 tacked on for good measure.
The live set portion of the disc finds the band sounding ferocious, tearing through raw, sped-up versions of tracks from Walk Among Us (which was released the same month) and Earth A.D, giving listeners a taste of the Misfits’ catchy, melodic side and their thrashier, darker side (which would inform Danzig’s work with Samhain just a few years later) in equal measure. Tracks such as “Demonomania” “All Hell Breaks Loose” and “We Bite” are about as nasty and violent as it gets in the live setting, complimented by Danzig’s snotty between-song banter, which mostly consists of fuck yous and calling people pussies and wimps.
Recording-wise, Wasp Queens is pretty comparable to Evilive, an ugly, crude, warts-and-all document of the Misfits in their prime. It’s a bit thinner-sounding and is mastered at a rather low level, but it benefits from a clearer mix and the sound seems to improve as the set goes on. It’s exciting to hear a live Misfits recording of such quality; the liner notes state that the set was broadcast over the radio, but it’s unclear as to where exactly the recording was sourced from for this CD version. Whatever the case, it sounds pretty great for a thirty-five-year-old recording of an underground punk gig.
The twenty-odd-minute interview which follows the live set is also a fun listen, if not a particularly revelatory one. Although it covers well known territory, it’s still pretty neat to hear young Danzig and Only goofing around and chatting excitedly about the band’s history and future. It’s a snapshot of what the Misfits were like before they became the stuff of legend, before their friendship devolved into lawsuits, egos and acrimony.
Indeed, Wasp Queens is a cool snapshot of the original Misfits’ short but highly influential years in the punk rock trenches. With seventeen tracks plus the interview, it’s more bang for your buck than Evilive and sounds a great deal better than many of the other unofficial live recordings floating around out there. Completist fiends and fans of raw live recordings would do well to get their hands on this one.