Saturday, January 01, 2005

The Vandals Kick Ass...

By Spc. Jan Critchfield
122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jan. 1, 2005 -- Punk rock and military discipline -- not exactly
like shampoo and conditioner. More like fire and ice. But for some soldiers
able to see the Vandals kick out the jams here Dec. 28, it almost seemed like
they were back on the block, stomping like there's no tomorrow.

"I think it was an outstanding show -- I mean, a major relief on the tension
out here," said Spc. Robert Skidmore of Company C, 115th Forward Support
Battalion, while waiting in line to score an autograph. "I've been (following)
these guys for some time. I had a bunch of blank tapes with Vandals written on
it. You know, I didn't really know the names of the songs but just listened to
them a lot when I was driving around in my car."

Skidmore said the performance provided a welcome respite for the soldiers. "We
forgot we were in Iraq for a while," he said, indicating two buddies of his
standing in the autograph line.

"We're having actually a great time in Iraq," bass player Joe Escalante said
after the autograph session. "Everyone's nice. Everyone has a better attitude
than we thought they'd have when we first got here. Everyone's a lot smarter
than most people think the military is."

The Vandals' regular drummer was busy with other projects and didn't make the
trip. Byron McMackin from the group Pennywise sat in for him.

The energy of the crowd at Al-Amal, the band said, far surpassed anywhere they
had played during their tour of Iraq and Kuwait. "The show went very well,"
front man David Quackenbush said. "I know there's lot of people here that
haven't heard of us, but it seemed like they were having a good time, and there
were a lot of smiles. I think it was an awesome opportunity to come here and do


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