By Rose Riot
If you were a skater in the early 80s there was a good chance that you were a fan of the band Agent Orange. Agent Orange is the band responsible for morphing together the sounds of surf music and punk rock to create what became surf/skate punk music. This band hit the Orange County California scene in that magic year for music, 1979.
Mike Palm has been fronting the band ever since, and happily back on tour. Mike, with his George Jetson style guitar and infectious grin are now being joined on stage by Perry Gx on bass and Dave Klein on drums, which is the current line up of Agent Orange.
I was recently infected by Mike’s grin a few weeks ago when Agent Orange played The Masquerade in Atlanta. I brought along my friend Jef, he was one of those skate punks that shredded through his teen angst with Agent Orange as his soundtrack.
Jef was the perfect companion for the night. Watching this now 40-something friend travel back in time via the mosh pit was very entertaining. Jef bobbed his head and sang along with all 15-plus songs the band played that night. He was in the company of a very receptive crowd that welcomed the human surfing and stage diving that the music inspired.
At one point Mike Palm praised the crowd for this activity and told them it was a “beautiful thing.” There was a noticeable increase in crowd participation when the band played “Living In Darkness” and other Agent Orange classics like “Tearing Us Apart” and “Whisper Past The Graveyard.” We were also treated to the latest single from the band, “This House Is Haunted” a more mature Agent Orange but still with the tangy flavor we’ve come to know and love from them.
I enjoyed every bit of the show but the stand out moments for me (besides Jef holding his own in the mosh pit) were when the band covered Dead Kennedys’ “Police Truck” and when surf guitar legend, Laramie Dean joined Mike, Perry and Dave on the stage for some classic surf tunes.
Laramie ended his performance by holding his beloved guitar over the crowd and encouraged their outstretched hands to play it, making for a most righteous photo op.
Right before Agent Orange exited the stage, Mike professed his love for Atlanta and said, “We just don’t come here enough.” Jef and I had to agree. We want Agent Orange to come back. If you want to look into the eyes of early American punk rock, you owe it to yourself and Agent Orange to go see them.
(Rose Riot is a photographer in Atlanta and contributing blogger for Tattoo Artist Magazine)