By Sarah Bennett
By Adam Lovinus
By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nick Keppler
By Nate Jackson
By Alex Distefano
Not that we wouldn't have been here anyway, what with two of Costa Mesa's finest bands, Dodge Dart and the Iron-Ons, playing in foreign territory (Costa Mesa bands stay out of Long Beach; Long Beach bands stay out of Costa Mesa. We don't know why this is, it just . . . is) on a bill topped out by the Christ-like gifts of Wayne Kramer, who was onlyone of the architects of punk rock. But then we saw that the superbly super Peepshot were opening—who, judging from their brilliant indie disc Welcome (which we reviewed two months back), happen to be one of Long Beach's best bands—and, well, let's just say our night was booked.
Re: Peepshot. To briefly recap (and going solely by the lyrics of Ben Hinch and Brian Summers), these boys gaze at life through the whiskey-streaked bottom of a cracked shot glass. Their characters are hopeless, blue-collar peons who hate their crummy jobs, can't keep a significant other, and have mounds of unpaid bills stacked up in the corner of the fleabag tenements they live in. Everyman songs about people we all know, basically—close-cutting songs that make you wince with the hurt of recognition during the moments when you swear that it's you they're singing about.
Turns out that Welcome's promise holds up tremendously when Peepshot do their thing live, through rounds of incessantly jangly guitars and chunky, muscular grooves. Just great music, in other words—no smoke machines, parted-curtain entrances or egomaniacal solos here. Just a bunch of guys who stand onstage and play. So they may not be all that exciting visually, but they hardly need to when they've got a stack o' nuggets such as the romping "Who Makes You Laugh," which sounded like a great, old Van Morrison cut; several white-hot Crazy Horse-esque jams that threatened to blow away everybody else on the bill (and this doesn't even count their swell "Albuquerque" cover); "Matter of Choice," which ended with this wildly rolling, somersaulting workout that sounded like the Grateful Dead on uppers. They took the song into strange, invigorating realms, as much of an awakening as getting your head dunked in a vat of ice water, and then they did this new song we think was called "Never Will" that was so spacious it felt like part of an alterna-country opera. In the artist-friendly, marketing-department-free major label of our dreams, Peepshot are among our first million-dollar signees, a band you wanna tell the world about. So we will: they're playing Que Sera in Long Beach on Sept. 18. See them, or be laughed at and ridiculed by those who know.
Oh, yeah—the other bands:the Iron-Ons were great as usual, a hunk of enriching, contagious power pop that drew a bunch of people from the bowling alley next door to see what all the commotion was about. They stayed, too, abandoning their pin games for something vastly more enriching. Of course, we loved hearing "Stock Bailout" from last year's Hey Bro 4 compilation, which had this long, sickly sweet bassline intro that bobbed and weaved. Someday, we're gonna actually drop down real money for some Iron-Ons music. Maybe then we'll learn the names of two Iron-Ons tunes.
Dodge Dart got hilariously weirded-out at the end of their set, when they just started handing over their gear to friends, who then kept the volume levels going through various noise/feedback excursions—communal Costa Mesa brotherhood, we guess. Anyway, the band that had once been Dodge Dart was by now transformed into an MC5 tribute group, which beat out an old Fred "Sonic" Smith song (Smith was Kramer's band mate in the MC5, y'see). Then they wrapped up, and Muddy Waters came strangely blasting out of the PA at 78 RPM. That really tripped us out.
The Dart were clearly stoked about opening up for Da Wayne, and who wouldn't be? Lessee . . . guitar-drenched screamers about drug running and the CIA? Masterpieces about junkie romances, dangerous madness, talking dogs and the broken promised land? A song dedicated to "all those who make their labor by the sweat of their brow: factory workers, bartenders, truck drivers, plumbers! YOU ARE SOMEBODY!" Amen, brutha Wayne! Just another phenomenal Wayne Kramer gig, a typical night where he made you believe in realrock & roll all over again like you used to, before you got old. Un-bee-lee-vuh-bull. We're still out of breath.