Punk wasn't supposed to age well. It's music of and for adolescent rage, meant to burn out fast and leave behind a corpse still pudgy with baby fat. At least, that was the myth, before the original punks got old, and all that rage started to seem less like a product of youth than a means of clinging to it. Luckily for Fred and Toody Cole, by the time they started Dead Moon, in the late '80s, they were already old—in punk years, anyway. And so, seeing them reunited with drummer Andrew Loomis onstage at the Crystal Ballroom on Saturday night, didn't feel like a pair of 65-year-olds attempt to relive their glory days but instead picking up where they left off eight years ago. Even though the Coles never gave Portland a chance to miss them—they started Pierced Arrows in 2006 and have played in town regularly since—the sold-out crowd greeted the trio with enthusiasm typically reserved for reformed Coachella headliners. Indeed, it was the biggest show any of them have played since Dead Moon ended its two-decade run, but the band didn't treat it like any big whoop. They walked out, greeted the audience, tuned up, and let it rip, just like they did in their heyday, at venues half the size. Huddled together at the front of the stage, its ceremonial candle dripping wax over a Jack Daniels bottle , the band delivered two-hours of gloriously ramshackle rock'n'roll. Without a barrier to hold them back, the fans—black-clad lifers who've probably been wandering the streets aimlessly ever since Satyricon closed—surged against the stage for classics like "It's OK," "Walking On My Grave," "54/40 or Fight" and "Dead Moon Night," some leaping up to relight the candle affixed to Loomis' drum set. Fred screamed like Robert Plant getting tortured with hot pokers, then he covered "Communication Breakdown." "I'm getting too young for this shit," he muttered at one point. Nah, Fred. You're old. As far as a lot of us are concerned, you've always been old. And that's why Dead Moon sounds every bit as vital in 2014 as it did 20 years ago. MATTHEW SINGER.
All photos by Emma Browne.