It might seem hard to believe, but there was a time when the idea of mixing punk rock with the aesthetics of skateboarding was brand-new. Back in those old-school days, Southern California power trio Agent Orange became an instant underground hero when its music was featured in early-Eighties skateboard videos such as Skate Visions. The band was so loved by the skate kids that in 1984, Agent Orange got its very own board graphic with the company Vision.
Led by vocalist/guitarist Mike Palm, the group had a trademark style — full of speedy surf-punk riffs and self-deprecating lyrics — that was a perfect fit with the emerging SoCal hardcore scene, which embraced the band's edgy live shows. Agent Orange's terrific 1981 debut album, Living in Darkness, remains an essential blueprint for the SoCal punk rock sound, noticeably influencing bands such as Bad Religion.
These days Agent Orange's surf-punk guitar clash is still in high gear, with founding member Palm — alongside new recruits Dusty Watson, Perry Giordano, and South Florida's own Laramie Dean — relentlessly touring the nation. The shows attract a diverse crowd of oldster skate punks as well as new kids awestruck by the sound of the early-Eighties skate-rock bands. So with the group's second Churchill's visit this year comes another great opportunity to catch AG grinding out classics such as the boisterous "Too Young to Die" and the trashy surf swinging of "Miserlou." If you go, be sure to bring that old Vision Agent Orange deck; the guys will be glad to sign it for you.