Rock, Roll, & Tumble

The Ziggens/The Line/Secret Hate
The Lava Lounge
Saturday, Feb. 5

Have we ever mentioned that we invented "action sports"? It's true! As a not-very-bright 8-year-old during the '70s, we once attempted to skate down a steep dirt-bike jump—so wild! So cutting-edge! So "Gen-X"!—but we caught a rock, took a tumble and snapped our right wrist—thus ending our blossoming action-sports career. That our tragic failure occurred the day before Jimmy Carter's inauguration seemed all too metaphorical.

As the recent Action Sports Retailer confab in Long Beach showed, action sports have gone on to become a huge money machine—at this post-convention bash at the Lava Lounge, it looked as if a logo factory had exploded. Unfortunately, the phrase "action sports" has spawned lots of crappy music from people who think they must therefore play a form of hard-fast-loud "action music" to match the genre. Case in point would be Secret Hate, who were all right during their first tune, "Radio Kills." But then they kept doing the same damn song over and over again—at least, that's how it sounded. They were not terribly creative, a hard-rock band with all the testosterone trappings. Especially their singer, adept at projecting that manic/ pissed/bulging-eyeballed look but relying too often on hackneyed posturing—the lad even dragged out Torrid Rock Cliché No. 22886B at one point, yowling into a mic he held in one hand while waving a beer around with the other. On the whole, though, Secret Hate's sound recalled the Nebula/Fu Manchu school, though not as potheaded. But just as sludgy. But not as good.

The Line blew out even less inspiring hard-rock-slash-rote-punk, a ceaseless drone something like the sound of late-night-TV white noise. Actually, maybe that's too harsh—sorry, late-night-TV white noise! They were a band so stupefyingly ordinary we're at a loss for adjectives—unless, of course, we fell asleep during their set. Seriously, though, the band kicking out covers of "Love Shack" and assorted Shania Twain tunes next door in the bowling alley was preferable.

Praise Allah for the mighty Ziggens, then, who rescued the evening with their culturally institutionalized (in Long Beach, anyway) brand of Ziggensness. What could we say here that you don't already know? The groovy surf tunes with the occasional Rasta accents? The smirky, smart-ass lyrics? The fashionable headgear? Lightweight, sure—but sweet, angstless fun, baby. Promptly get thee to a record store for their throbbing new live album, Tickets Still Available (or at least read the review on page 27). Next week: ASR Night Two at the Lava Lounge, with better bands! And some that weren't!

The Groovie Ghoulies/The Busstop Hurricanes/Fred Wilson FBI
Linda's Doll Hut
Saturday, Feb. 12

Love those ruby-red Christmas lights on the Doll Hut roof that spell out the name of the club! Now whenever we secretly parachute in from 12,000 feet, at least we'll know where to find it (unlike last time, when we totally misread our navigational charts and landed in a trash bin somewhere in Stanton). Ikey Owens, keyboard genius of Teen Heroes, certainly found Linda's okay enough, for not only was he doing his thing with slightly whacked opening band Fred Wilson FBI (who fabulously tarted-up Madonna's "Burning Up"), but he was guesting with the Busstop Hurricanes, too! And boy, did those 'Canes blow! Hyuck! Hyuck! Somebody stop us!No, no, no, not really. Quite the reverse, for the Busstop Hurricanes were indeed fantastic, a reincarnation of the Animals or Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels, and fronted by a mesmerizing, manic, jittery singer we think was named Sammy, who looked like a young, foppy Van Morrison. They're a meaty band grounded in the rebel-rock anthems that came out of 1960s garages (back when rock & roll was still dangerous) and loaded with great, nasty, offend-your-grandparents guitars. And what showmen! Sammy, for his part, spent a good hunk of the set crawling on top of the bar (when he wasn't falling off it) while belting out high-test R&B. The only weak moment arrived during their odd, awkward attempt at esoteric jazzbo poetry ("Onion, my onion, when I cut you, you make me cry, cry, cry!"—whathafuh?), but mostly the band pinched off perfect music for laying down rubber across open, foreboding highways. On the very day when Screamin' Jay Hawkins left this planet, we're sure that some of his spirit entered the bodies of the Busstop Hurricanes on its way to heaven.

The wonderful Groovie Ghoulies, meanwhile, were just as luscious, a teeming tide pool of bounding punk-pop inertia. Who wouldn't lust after a punk band that does a song called "Hair of Gold, Skin of Blue," a love song to Smurfette?

 
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