Refused hails from Sweden yet frontman Dennis Lyxzén is a global force. He’s used his international exposure with Refused and the several other bands of which he’s a member to spout political opinions that pertain to the world in general (Pussy Riot’s imprisonment being the latest issue on which he’s outspoken). He can do this all in incredibly articulate English, which is not his native tongue.
If Lyxzén had to call someplace in the United States home, however, it’d probably be Southern California. Refused performed at The Henry Fonda Theater in Hollywood Monday night as part of their lengthier-than-expected 2012 reunion tour. The show marked the group’s final performance in the United States, as they’ll finish out their reunion with stops in Australia and Sweden. In a way, L.A. almost seemed like Refused’s honorary U.S. hometown.
Lyxzén explained the decision to play the final show in Los Angeles from the stage Monday, mentioning that the band decided relatively last-minute to add another U.S. date. “The first secret show was in Pomona,” he said, “and then we did Coachella and then we did Fuck Yeah Fest. So we’ve been around here a lot but … then we got the offer to play in Texas and then we said we should treat Los Angeles with a proper fucking club show.”
The L.A. fans were grateful for the opportunity to see Refused in a more intimate manner, as the show sold out relatively quickly and tickets were listed for over 3x face value on StubHub.
Lyxzén asked the audience who had seen them at the other SoCal shows, and several cheers echoed throughout the theater. “Who saw us in the 90s?” he also asked, “Don’t lie!” A few front-row audience members even cheered to that.
The band then treated the audience to a performance of “Circle Pit,” a song that the band doesn’t usually perform live. As members of the mosh pit, which mainly consisted of burly older punks, chaotically bumped and stumbled into each other, band members started waving their hands in a circular motion. They were instructing the audience to start a circle pit, which eventually formed in the crowded area in front of the stage. After the song, Lyxzén commented that he knew L.A. had a circle pit in them since he grew up watching videos of 80s hardcore bands from the area. More Southern California love.
Most of the songs from the group’s most influential work, 1998‘s The Shape Of Punk To Come, were performed— giving fans that loved that album a chance to finally see them performed live. “Summerholidays vs. Punkroutine” and the ironically-titled “Refused Are Fucking Dead” were highlights in the live format. Lyxzén performed each of these songs with some interesting dance moves and the occasional stage dive. He’s definitely a dynamic performer, as are the other members of the band.
The crowd rightfully went absolutely nuts for Refused’s first encore— their most popular song “New Noise.” After they finished that explosive performance, I overheard a sweaty girl gush, “I’ve been waiting 10 years for that!”
And soon after that, that sweaty girl was likely seeing Refused together onstage live for the last time. The bandmates (Lyxzén as sweaty as the sweaty girl and shirtless at this point) each wrapped their arms around each other and gave a bow to rousing applause. As the other members walked off stage, Lyxzén stuck around for a few moments and waved/tossed water bottles into the crowd, soaking in the overwhelming appreciation and love from his dedicated American fans. It seemed as if the singer didn’t really want to leave, and his fans didn’t really want him to either— yet they each knew that that was what’s best for all of them. At least in America, Refused are dead yet again. Yet the ecstatic public response to the group’s brief stateside reunion tour is a great sign for the shape of punk to come.