Ultra Phat!

The Killingtons/Violet Burning/Ultrathin/The Neptunes
DiPiazza's Lava Lounge,
Long Beach
Friday, Jan. 29
A surf band at DiPiazza's, with the room's kitschy, Polynesian-lounge-in-flames motif? It seemed like a perfect pairing, and for a while, it was. The all-boy Neptunes (not to be confused with the all-girl Neptunas, who also play surf-unless this was a stunningly good drag show in reverse) rattled off all the required na-na-na-na-neener-neener-neener-neener geetar licks that have defined the surf sound for half a century now (we say this just to make all the appropriate people out there feel really, really old). But we soon realized we never, ever need to see another surf band again. Don't get us wrong; we respect the surf stuff-historical OC origins and all. After about 20 minutes of this, though, we'd had it up to here with the Neptunes' monotone drone-it all sounded exactly the same to our tired, weathered ears. We're sure the Neptune boys are good kids, but we do hope they're all in other bands, churning out something infinitely more creative. Things got really tragic when they dumped the surf instrumentals. They could have just slinked away, but instead, they felt the need to run through such ancient bar-band tunes as "Tequila" and the unforgivable "Louie Louie." The poor guy who got stuck singing these creaky ditties howled uncomfortably; it was kinda like Glenn Frey trying to pass a spiny lobster-not fun to watch. Speaking of watches, that's what everybody in the crowd kept looking at, but the end couldn't have come quickly enough. It was like being held hostage at a Jimmy Buffett concert. The Neptunes eventually split, and as soon as they did, we heard the opening strains of X's "Los Angeles" blurting out of the club's boomin' system, undoubtedly put on to cleanse the room of any impurities. Ultrathin were good and sloshy (as opposed to sloshed, though we didn't have a breathalyzer handy to prove anything)-a little like Led Zep, but without the hippy-dippy flower imagery. We especially liked the arty way they kept building and building their songs into a freaky crescendo and then imploding them. Some weeks ago, we said their singer should pop a few lozenges, and that's still true-he sounded a lot like the guy from Matchbox 20, the one nobody can seem to remember. Other than an iffy ballad, Ultrathin were ultra phat. Violet Burning seemed like they were all Smashing Pumpkined-out, but they did have some redeeming qualities, like a lot of swell, alluring melodies. Their singer, though, bugged, with an eyes-closed, mouth-open, jeans-creaming pose of orgasmic ecstasy epoxied on his face and hand gestures that made him look like he was mimicking Robert Smith in an old Cure video. But they had some genuinely righteous power chords that were pleasingly amped-a tad like early Flaming Lips. Unfortunately, what got everyone's attention was their cover of INXS's "Don't Change," which was nice and all-but ain't it sad when it takes an oldie to grab a fickle public's attention? We'd been poking fun throughout the night at all the A/V equipment that some band had stacked up. "Mmmph-mmmph!" we tittered to no one in particular. "One of these bands is going to show films while they play in front of them! Who do they think they are? The bleedin' Velvet Underground? Mmmph!" But then we found out that said band were the Killingtons, and boy, did our tune change fast! Suddenly, we decided that the "multimedia presentation in the context of a musical performance" was a "bold, profound artistic statement." It's just so hard to slag a band we love, so we won't. Actually, the Killingtons would probably be the first to tell you that they aren't terribly exciting to look at, anyway. Such is the curse when all you know how to do onstage is play incredibly wondrous rock & roll. The visuals were kinda trippy to watch: lots of cruising-through-city-streets stuff, with the occasional riot, fire and collapsing buildings thrown in to appease fans of the Ultra Violence. But more important, the Killingtons had a nifty batch of new songs that we hadn't heard yet, which were all quite spectacular, all done in that typically moody, rolling, Killingtons way. Will somebody hurry up and make these lads huge? We're getting awfully tired of seeing rubbery-armed drummer Michel slaving his life away behind the counter whenever we go into Fingerprints.Send tapes, CDs, show dates and comp tickets to Locals Only, OC Weekly, P.O. Box 10788, Costa Mesa, CA 92627-0247.

 
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