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Germs Weekend in Hollywood

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Photo by Kevin Estrada/Used with permission

Richard Meltzer, reviewing the Germs’ G.I. album for the LA Times in 1979, declared the band heirs apparent to the Doors. So perhaps there’s poetic justice in the way the two bands’ late-period careers mirror each other almost exactly; their lives have both been reenacted in Hollywood movies, and they’ve both returned to the concert stage with a celebrity ringer in place of a defining, iconic, dead lead vocalist. And importantly enough, they’re both continuously idolized by a new crop of 16 year olds searching for an edgy, articulate, safely deceased role model every year. Consider them essential rites of passage for hippie and punker kids respectively, from the same town, their reigns just six years apart.

It’s highly surreal to contemplate the probability that more people have witnessed the Shane West-era Germs than ever saw the Darby Crash-era Germs. This weekend, the band will add to that imbalance, performing at the Echo on Saturday night, and the Bates Stage of Sunset Junction on Sunday afternoon. And with Friday marking the premiere of their Hollywood biopic, What We Do Is Secret, don’t be surprised if you see Mayor V hand a plaque to Pat, Don, Lorna and hunky Shane as they the stage on Sunday, marking this official Germs Weekend in Los Angeles. “People of LA,” he’ll cry, “what they do is not a secret any more!”, as twin cannons fire and a thousand balloons are launched skyward. Not bad work for a band that was once banned from every single music venue in town.

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The Germs still command respect in a scene that normally has no respect for anything. The usual cries of "sellout" have been mostly absent for this reunion, possibly because even the crustiest codgers are happy to be able to hear No God blaring out of a club PA while the audience foams around them. It's not the same, and no one expects it to be. While Darby promised chaos and destruction, Shane promises a jolly singsong with all the mates, and a set of all your favorite songs played with power and gusto.

And if the lid seems more firmly in place this time, you know that's just as true down the street at a Doors Of The 21st Century gig. No one expects to see the lid torn off at shows like this anymore; it's not called for and might in fact be inappropriate. Because if you had a crowd as large as they'll draw at Sunset Junction acting like a Germs audience from 1979, I can guarantee you there would never be street fairs in this town again.

The film What We Do Is Secret premieres at the Nuart Theater,11272 Santa Monica Blvd., on Friday, August 22.

The Germs perform at the Echo, 1822 Sunset Blvd., on Saturday, August 23, and at Sunset Junction, at the corner of Bates and Sunset, on Sunday, August 24.