By Sarah Bennett
By Adam Lovinus
By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nick Keppler
By Nate Jackson
By Alex Distefano
So why aren't we at Club 369 more often? Oh, you know, various excuses, none of which are probably very good. That putrid hairspray glam-metal show we saw last summer that we cite every now and then as an example of how truly horrifying the live-music experience can be? It happened at 369. And we have bad, decade-old memories of hanging out there in our wild, petulant youth, when the room was known as Goodies, a sleazy pickup joint if there ever was one, when everyone seemed to get picked up but us—and we were much cuter then, too. And, well—northernmost North County, enough said. We spent 19 looong years living there! Why spend a minute more?
But we were just in the area, so we thought we'd drop in. Happily, things started off well with the Good Kind, a perfectly decent, jam-heavy combo that sounded a bit like the Dave Matthews Band (a sometimes guilty pleasure of ours—please don't tell anybody) without the funky fiddle player. They flashed lots of bright, shimmery guitar hooks; had a pleasant, soulful lead singer; and even wrestled Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry" away from the drunken beach-bar bands that populate South County, molding it into something that had an honest, renewed passion. But why did their lighting guy have such a hard-on for that obnoxious strobe light?
Hyphen, a Silver Lake band (though not one of those Silver Lake bands you hear about who are always so full of themselves), were much, much louder than the Good Kind—always, as we've said, a warning sign that a band is trying to mask a severe lack of talent with pointless, ponderous volume. But they weren't too bad, either, even though parts of them smelled alternately like an '80s pop-metal band with shorter hair and a somewhat-plodding Soundgarden Xerox. Their drummer seemed entirely too busy, like he was gonna freak out at any second and do a solo. Fortunately, his band mates reined him in, which was a smart thing, since clichéd moves like drum solos are the quickest route to getting torn a new poop chute by us. But Hyphen really did play some superfine rock & roll. And their EP, which we picked up at their merch stand, confirmed all our instincts about them—a fine slab of rockin' rockosity.
We were prepared to hate My Big Mouth before they even pinched off a single note. Their buildup alone reeked of pretension: strange, spoken voices oozed through their PA moments before they went on, and we'll always call out any band that feels the need to heighten the drama by making a grand entrance through a parted black curtain with—run for your lives!—smoke machines blazing away. They thought they were rock stars, all right; a couple of people in the band even wore glittery outfits that looked purloined from Rock Stars R Us. Other such cringe-worthy moments included their lead singer making such deeply profound, philosophical stage pronouncements as, "So, is there anybody who's not having a good fuckin' time?" and "These motherfuckers down here are havin' a good time; how 'bout you in the back?" (he oughta be the poster boy for the impending "Less Talk, More Rock!" movement).
So now that we have all that out of the way, My Big Mouth's actual music was pretty damn groovy—betcha didn't see that one coming, hmmm? They eventually revealed themselves to be an insatiably giddy pop-rock band that shot off loads of memorable, radio-friendly tuneage. A party band mostly, they were very flashy and very commercial, but they know what works—and just how to work it. Still, we think they'd be much better off if they ditched all the ridiculous, frilly, arena-rawk effects and behavior and just concentrated on playing a good set instead of putting on a huge, glitzy production. It's not too late to change, kids!
We also like their Is It Snowing in Space?CD, especially that "Artificial Pig" track, easily the best Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie impersonation we've heard in many a moon. But then we read the disc's liner notes, which include the following sentence: "Your journey just now begins/To not look for the answers, but for the questions/For somewhere between the two lies the destined truth"—and we got all depressed again. Take our advice, My Big Mouth people: don't surrender yourselves to the Dark Side!We like them—really, we do!—but they make it tough to like them as much as we want to.Send tapes, CDs, and tips on where we should go (besides hell) to Locals Only, OC Weekly, P.O. Box 10788, Costa Mesa, CA 92627-0247.