Show Review: Rikk Agnew's Only Theatre of Pain

In 1979 Rozz Williams started the monumental deathrock band Christian Death and was soon accompanied by former Adolescents guitarist Rikk Agnew. In 1982, Christian Death released the groundbreaking record Only Theatre of Pain which Rikk Agnew provided the dramatically dark rhythms and riffs for. Since then Christian Death has undergone many manifestations and transformations. Only Theatre of Pain featuring Rikk Agnew is an exhibition of the original Christian Death album by the same name played in its entirety. On June 1, 2019 Only Theatre of Pain featuring Rikk Agnew played the classic album from front to back at the Garage in Ventura. The show featured three opening acts all from Ventura with Soüp Hat, The Hell Toupees, and Detoxi sharing the stage this night.

The first act of the night was Soüp Hat, a hard/stoner rock, punk, and blues influenced group with a kick-ass vocalist. As the band was tuning up and dialing in, the first thing I noticed was the singer’s shirt which read, “Kill Your Local Rapist.” I instinctively knew that the set was going to be good and I was not disappointed. They started their set at approximately 8:30 pm and it lasted for thirty minutes. I had never actually seen them before and my first initial impression was that they are a hard rock band but as the night progressed on I began to pick up on their other influences as well. At a few points, I felt a Danzig vibe from the vocalist and it was coupled by their slower stoner metal riffs. They set the momentum of the night with their shredding riffs and powerful vocals.

Soüp Hat

I am glad that this show was billed with supporting acts that are actually from Ventura as it gave me an opportunity to see local acts down south. This show was put together by Midnight Society Productions, they are an 805 booking agency that always includes local musicians on their shows. Shout out to them for providing local musicians an opportunity to showcase their skills and to have a chance to play with their influences.

Marko and Rikk Agnew

Every band that played this night fit well to the bill and it was no different for punk rock band The Hell Toupees. The Hell Toupees provided a dynamic performance but also catered to our punk rock needs. My first impression was that of the Dead Kennedys but they also went on to play a few covers that fit appropriately for the night. They had songs that ranged from urban legend the Mothman to the angry orange in office. In between all this, they even managed to squeeze in “Just Like Heaven” and “Anything, Anything (I’ll Give You)”.

The Hell Toupees

The first two acts were an awesome way to get the night rolling but I excitingly anticipated the second to last set of the night. Detoxi is a punk/deathrock band and they are no strangers to the goth scene as this band features former members of past local acts Maask & Catholic Spit. I first heard of this band earlier this year and I wrote a detailed piece on them as my Band Spotlight of the month which you can check out here. This was actually my first time seeing them play live and they hold the spot for one of my favorite local acts in the 805. They started the set with their song “Grey Lines” to a green-tinted room covered in fog machine smoke which provided the perfect mysterious aesthetic for the opening lines. They played the songs from their EP Death of a Nation as well as quite a few new songs. Really looking forward to the releases that they have in store for us.

Detoxi

The final act of the night was the anticipation of many bats and punks alike. Only Theatre of Pain featuring Rikk Agnew does not feature all original members of Christian Death but this particular manifestation features Gitane DeMone who is a past member. While some of the other members have not been a part of Christian Death, they did Only Theatre of Pain justice. The current vocalist channeled the memory of Rozz Williams well and Gitane DeMone provided the backing vocals throughout the night. Rikk Agnew quietly stood in the back but his presence was alluring as he reminded us of the signature classic sounds of deathrock.

Only Theatre of Pain featuring Rikk Agnew