Holiday in Anaheim

Notes from a week at Chain Reaction

The Hippos/Slow Gherkin/Limbeck

Saturday, Aug. 28

Just when you think ska is a spent genre, along comes some largely unknown band it seems everyone in the underground is into. And everyone was at Chain Reaction for the Hippos—the room as packed as we've ever seen it, and you know the body-heat level has reached its boiling point when you walk in after being outside for a while and your eyeglasses fog up. Steamy!

But the music? At first, the Hippos passed themselves off as a not-half-bad rock band, yet one that remained faithful to ska's requisite high-energy, sweat-soaked, slam-bang beats. But then they had to go whip out the horns, and what once seemed semipromising turned into the all-too-ordinary. Yeah, they kept up a frantic No-Doz-and-triple-espresso pace, and we really did basically like them, but our enjoyment was more for the sake of Third Wave nostalgia. Their predictable covers of '80s songs like Naked Eyes' "Always Something There to Remind Me" and the Police's "So Lonely" were, well, predictable. Tired, too.

Limbeck were okay—not mind-blowing or anything, just another one of those Weezer-derived bands, albeit one that pumped a little faster than most. And the grilled-cheese sandwiches their people cooked up were mighty tasty, too. NoCal's Slow Gherkin had a lead singer who joyously spazzed around the stage like Springsteen in '78, but then he'd spout really dumb clichés like, "Heads are definitely gonna roll tonight!" and well . . .

The Lassie Foundation Tuesday, Aug. 31

Now here's a band that has grown for the better. Not that we didn't like 'em before. But two years ago, we wrote about Placentia-based Lassie Foundation's penchant for My Bloody Valentine-esque dream-pop, with which we felt they did a thoroughly fine job. Then we got a copy of their new CD, Pacifico, a few months back, only to find that, um . . . it was kinda . . . formulaic. The spacey guitars, dit-dit-dit electronic pings, and falsettoed vocals that could rival Mariah Carey were still in place, but in two years, they hadn't really moved beyond the stylistically limiting shoegazer stuff. Even their "rock & roll" song, "I've Got the Rock & Roll for You," sounded more like disco on an oxygen high. The Lassie Foundation needed to rock, and in a bad way. Turns out all they had to do was recruit ex-Fold Zandura drummer Frank Lenz, who has since injected a much-needed groove into the band. Now they pump; have transformed themselves into a sweatier, meatier, livelier outfit that reminds you of Boy/October-era U2; and are vastly more interesting, colorful, jangly, spontaneous—even head-banging! They're still quite poppy, only now they've wisely ditched the mechanized feel of their sound in favor of something more human. Now what they need to do is head back into a studio and capture it all on tape. Then they'd be damn near perfect.

Benümb Friday, Sept. 3

So we show up on this grindcore-themed night chasing down a Fox News crew, who were here allegedly doing a story about the comeback of metal (though, being Rupert Murdoch's Fox News and all, their piece will likely wind up presented as a parental-paranoia-inducing "THESE COULD BE YOUR CHILDREN!" slab of lies aimed to suck in as many viewers as possible during the November sweeps, which is when it's scheduled to air. More on that story as it develops). If the Fox guys were smart, they would've pointed their cameras and microphones away from the kid walking around the room with a cardboard box on his head (we can just envision the stentorian voice-over tease: "DOES THE MUSIC THAT YOUR KIDS LISTEN TO MAKE THEM GO OUT IN PUBLIC WITH BOXES ON THEIR HEADS? IS THIS A SIGN THAT THEY'LL SOON BE RIDDLING THEIR HIGH SCHOOLS WITH BULLETS? WE TALK TO THE EXPERTS, THURSDAY AT 10!") and instead focused on the stage, where the truly awful Hessian band Benümb were hair-flipping their way into obscurity. They were unintentionally hilarious and stoopid—funny schtick like theirs always brings in the ratings. Benümb were truly wretched: their singer was incomprehensibly guttural; the band played dull, pompous metal; and—worst of all—we couldn't stop calling all our friends "Duuuuudes!" for, like, three straight days afterward!We left when Benümb did, sadly missing Today Is the Day, who we later heard were an orgy of puke, fire and T-shirts that read, "SHOOT EVERY FUCKIN' PIG." Nice Catholic boys, we assume.

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.
 
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