Undaunted: Agent Orange tonight at Whiskey Dick’s | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Undaunted: Agent Orange tonight at Whiskey Dick’s

Dan Thomas

Agent Orange plays like a force of nature, and it seems that it takes a borderline natural disaster to keep the band from its Tahoe show.

Or at least that’s what happened Jan. 5, when a monster winter storm that left as much as 7 feet of snow around Tahoe, turned Agent Orange back from its date at Whiskey Dick’s.

“We made it less than 20 miles from the show, we tried to power up there, the road was closed, and we didn’t make it,” guitarist Mike Palm, the band’s lone remaining founding member, said Thursday from Los Angeles.

Agent Orange tries to limit itself to a show or two a year at the same venue. But the trio usually seems enthusiastic about booking South Shore shows, where the guys can go snowboarding or rent mountain bikes if the schedule permits, and have a home away from home in Whiskey Dick’s, where they’ll play a make-up show Friday, March 14.

“We don’t want to play anywhere too often,” Palm said. “We don’t want to burn it out, but if there’s interest we’ll come back as often as we can.”

Agent Orange ” Palm, bassist Steve “Soto” Rodgers and drummer Scott Miller ” roared out of the same Southern California hardcore scene as Social Distortion and Bad Religion, but always emphasized its surf-rock melody as much as the gnarly punk guitars. That combination struck a chord with surfers, skaters and snowboarders, who still turn out for Agent Orange shows today.

“They’re getting a lot of exposure to us through things like freestyle motocross videos,” Palm said.

Agent Orange has nearly three decades’ worth of material to draw from. Lately, the trio has been returning to “Virtually Indestructible,” its milestone release from 1996, when Agent Orange had been playing for almost two decades.

“That’s one of the records we’re kind of reaching back to and pulling some of the tracks off of that,” Palm said.

Fans describe the new lineup of Palm, drummer Dusty Watson and Perry Giordano on bass as playing their favorite Agent Orange material faster and tighter than ever before. Palm agreed:

“Touring all over the world has definitely made us stronger, and there’s something to be said for playing this many shows to fine-tune things. And I think that’s kind of our strong point is our live energy and how to fine-tune our band into the well-oiled machine,” he said. “I always saw longevity as something to consider, something to aim for.”

The band has a well-earned reputation for ferocious live shows, but Palm described an Agent Orange show as something more musical than listeners might expect from a hard-core punk band.

“Something that’s got a tune to it, a hook, a guitar riff, whatever it takes,” Palm said.

So Agent Orange shows have more to offer than just a mosh pit. Palm described the fans as pretty in control, with a large representation from the action-sports crowd.

“I think it’s a good mix of people,” Palm said. “We bring in a good cross-section, and everybody gets along pretty well, and everybody has fun.”

In addition to its regular tour spots in places like Orange County and ” oddly enough ” Cleveland, Agent Orange is playing more shows in such places as Steamboat Springs, Colo., and South Lake Tahoe.

“Those are the kind of places we end up going back to over and over,” Palm said.

Maybe they’ll even be able to enjoy the snow this time.

“It’s too bad we missed out on one of the best snows,” Palm said. “It was pretty epic, from what I heard.”

Don’t be surprised if you see the same band you heard ripping it up at Whiskey Dick’s on Friday night doing the same thing to the mountain later in the weekend.

“We’ll see. It is the end of the tour, so we don’t have the plans set in stone yet,” Palm said. “In fact, we need to rent some boards, so if anybody wants to get in the show …”


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