World/Inferno Friendship Society @ Asbury Lanes

ASBURY PARK, NJ—World/Inferno Friendship Society are one of those groups that are certainly one of the kookiest and heartfelt yet chaotic bunch of individuals I have ever seen live. Putting on a rather exciting show, frontman Jack Terricloth is the only original standing member of these punks from New Jersey. I was lucky enough to catch such antics at the last stop of the current tour in a venue that was perfectly fitting.

A most special attribute to the band is that they are a group of punk rockers, making up an orchestra of evil circus music. Creative lyrical content and an ability to transform a crowd of youthful anarchists and art students into an eruption of madness is what has always attracted me to them. My friends and I drove all the way down to the Jersey Shore with our hearts filled with expectations of total disaster, and the notion that Asbury Lanes just might get destroyed that night.

World Inferno came on stage after doing a quick sound check and began their set as they usually do—with a song titled, “Tattoos Fade.” As soon as the horn and violin section came into the mix, the entire bowling alley exploded. Immediately the fans were drawn close to the stage, people were flying through the air, and there were hundreds of arms reached outward towards the front. This type of energy and passion from the crowd remained constant all throughout the show. After the opening track, Mr. Terricloth began his usual rants on being a New Jersey local before they played their home state anthem, “New Jersey, My Ancestral Homeland.” There were pieces played on the night that seemed to be written specifically for a live performance. Every tune carried with it more energy among the masses than the last. Unfortunately, our expectations of destruction were not fulfilled, and we all attributed that to the exclusion of the infamous song, “Zen And The Art Of Breaking Everything In This Room.”

The absence of certain members of World/Inferno Friendship Society has certainly made a difference to their characteristics as a band. Each new recruit is most definitely phenomenal—bringing the attitude of youth required—but in essence, some of the originals can never be replaced. Seeing them perform with the old lineup compared with the new is a world of difference. While the new members still put on a great show, the entire time I kept thinking to myself how much I miss Peter Hess, Lucky Strano, and Franz Nicolay. Their new record, The Anarchy And The Ecstasy, has less of a punk rock vibe through it which was also evident in their live set. Luckily this is compensated for with the fans. Regardless of the toned down nature, (and that’s a very small, almost insignificant “toned down”) the crowd is still filled with just as much insanity as I have ever seen.

There is not a doubt in my mind that the band’s annual Halloween show this year will be just as crazy as ever. While an old emergence may have closed, there is still that trap door left slightly open for the group to keep the angst, the attitude, the silliness, and the sense of humor in everything they do. And so I must say to Peter, Franz, and Lucky that you will all be missed, and to Frank Morin (guitar), Leslie Wacker (saxophone) and Rebecca Schlappich (violin), welcome to the family.