Math-Clup Pop Stars

Night of the Disappearing Nerf Herders

Nerf Herder might be playing at Linda's Doll Hut—that's what Linda Jemison says, and the show has been advertised for weeks. But this is nerd rock, where abject quirkiness is de rigueur, and Nerf Herder are not about to be pinned down—not by something as mundane as a club date on a concert schedule. Consequently, it's unclear whether the band will show up.

The runaround began when their demo didn't come in the mail. So I went to the Internet—which means "runaround" in some language or other—and discovered that Nerf Herder are on My Records, an indie label started by Joey from Lagwagon. I started looking for a contact number when I stumbled across the little fact that Nerf Herder have left My Records for Arista—apparently, the Big Time called pretty quickly after the song "Van Halen" exploded onto college-radio charts. How big? Nerf Herder sang "Happy Birthday" at a party for big-cheese record-label dude Clive Davis and were called "faggots" by Sammy Hagar after they sang "Dave has lost his hairline/Is this what you wanted, Sammy Hagar?"

Yes, that was a non sequitur. But Nerf Herder is all about harmless non sequiturs and obscure allusions—a "Nerf Herder" is a term of opprobrium from The Empire Strikes Back. Anyway, I began to look for contact information at Arista, and my fax started ringing. Someone was faxing me the band's press release, which wasn't from Arista—because Nerf Herder already left Arista for Honest Don's, a division of Fat Wreck Records. I started to recognize the modus operandi. I called Honest Don's.

Me: Hi [blah, blah, blah, music-writer introduction]. I'm considering writing a feature about the March 28 Nerf Herder show at Linda's Doll Hut. Can you send me their press kit and a copy of the new CD? Cool Record Label Chick: Huh? Me: March 28. Cool Record Label Chick: Let me look into that.

Did I mention I love nerd rock? How about my severe case of Waning Patience Syndrome? I started to get a little ticked and—I'm not sure, but it also seemed—a little tic. Sure enough, the Cool Record Label Chick called back, saying she checked with the band and the band's manager and none of 'em knew anything about any show in Orange County. She mentioned that they do have a show scheduled at the Roxy in Hollywood, though. That doesn't quite work for a paper called the OC Weekly, I pointed out.

I called the Doll Hut.

Me: Hi [blah, blah, blah]. Cool Booker: Yeah, they're playing. Me: I called them and . . . Cool Booker: No. They are playing.

Out of courtesy, I called the Cool Record Label Chick, just to let her know Nerf Herder are indeed playing at the Doll Hut. She double-checked —out of courtesy, you see—and then let me know that Nerf Herder are definitely not.

Then came an e-mail from the band Fag Rabbit announcing that it is opening for Nerf Herder at the Doll Hut in Nerf Herder's only Southern California appearance. Another bad sign. Or maybe it was a good sign. I called the Reverend Marvin III of Fag Rabbit to get his take on the situation.

Me: Hi [blah, blah, blah . . . only Southern California appearance . . . blah, blah, blah . . . but what about the Roxy? Blah, blah.] Marvin: Uh-oh. That's not good. Let me call the booker. I don't want to incite a riot. At least not over that!

I saw Fag Rabbit once, years ago, at a warehouse kegger where they played with Throwrag. They were good. If you see them at the Doll Hut on Tuesday, you may also see Nerf Herder. Or you may not. If Nerf Herder do play the Doll Hut that night, they will be promoting their new CD, How to Meet Girls. I learned this from the Internet.

Nerf Herder are a bunch of fricken comedians—the sort who would book a show, say they hadn't, and show up anyway. Their math-club brand of poppy punk produces a Cheshire-cat grin. But "Courtney" displays the band's sensitive side: "Hope I'm not out of place/but Courtney Love, sit on my face." (Their CD, originally due out in January, was released March 7. Reason for the delay: to see if thin-skinned—and now fashionably thin!—Courtney Love was going to sue the pants off Nerf Herder.) "For You" expresses their devotion to other celebs: "I'd make cocktails like Tom Cruise/And I'd roller blade with Corey Feldman/For you, I'd do anything for you." They pay tribute to another hero in "Jonathon": "Too sensitive for this world/Too sensitive for that girl/Please, God, don't let me end up like Jonathon Richman."

They also have a fondness for Sleestacks and girls with lips like strawberry Quik. And they still can't get laid. And whatever you do, if you ever end up with a member of Nerf Herder in your room, do not leave your socks out.

 
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