By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
Beachwood Sparks/The Green and Yellow TV
Saturday, March 11
The famous peeps turned out for Beachwood Sparks! We're talking real rock stars with real talent, with members of the Killingtons, Shave, Smile, Peepshot, Bourbon Jones and Lo Fi Champion (who don't really count, since they opened). So we knew we were in the hottest spot in town.
Green and Yellow TV were sweetly, terrifyingly mellow, a four-piece with a singer whose T-shirt baldly stated a pointed, political message: GOURMET WOK. Their first tune was kinda sleepy, so that's what we obsessed over for a bit. They had some warm hooks, and then they flew off into a breezy, lazy, almost Brit-pop airspace, like Pink Floyd doing "San Tropez" or the Kinks doing "Sunny Afternoon," surrounded by a swirly, subpsychedelic sheen. Brand it elevator music for a long drive out to the edge of nowhere special. Very pleasant.
Beachwood Sparks, currently a big LA Buzz Band ("Rock's Great, Un-Ironic Hope," March 10), were pretty retro, just as we had heard they would be. Let it be known, though, that they're a full-on country band when they play live. Oh, their just-released Sub Pop debut might reveal a certain Beach-Boys-in-their-doped-up-Brian-Wilson-phase nuance, but onstage, it's the Flying Burrito Brothers all over again. They've got the wiiiiide-collared Western shirts apparently stolen from a Gram Parsons yard sale (what, no Nudie suits?), and their singer even looks a bit like Gram or a scrawnier Jeff Tweedy. Sonically, it's all a sublime, beer-stained Terraplane of winsome pedal steels—a bit weary, beaten down, depressed, dreamy, even heroin-y, but great music to accompany that ooky, just-woke-up feeling. Their trippier touches aren't too far gone, mostly stuff that sounds like "Incense and Peppermints," and there really isn't much of that, anyway. Not the sort of band you should blast while taking your bulldozer out for a spin, lest they get you catatonic, but a swell band nonetheless.
Friday, March 24
There we were at home Friday watching Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? when a sleeveless, black-and-white vision of Mike Ness flashed on the tube, and he was talking about how he really wants to get a Mickey Mouse tattoo, but he just doesn't have any room left. We swear this is true, but it was so freaky at the time that we immediately blamed it on all the cough syrup we had been pounding. It was the oddest thing we've seen since Limbeck popped up on that iMac commercial. Or was that a hallucination, too? We figured we needed some air—not to mention volume—so off we went to the Foothill, where we were confronted by Riotgun, who weren't at all interesting until they shot off (yuck—clichťd metaphor alert!) a throbbing "Sonic Reducer" cover, which was grand, if only for nostalgia's sake. Most of their songs were fairly tame old punk. Their biggest flaw, though, was their seeming inability to shut up, what with inane, pander-to-the-crowd banter like "This song's about killing rich people. We hate rich people —unless they're buying us beer." Uh-huh-huh-huh. All the eye rolling we did during their set left us dizzy.
On the other hand, there's LA's fabulous Streetwalkin' Cheetahs, a band full of hepped-up raucousness, Detroit lust and angry, angry Gibsons. Unlike Riotgun, the Cheetahs know how to attack their set list, leaving barely any room to breathe between songs, a skull-cracking assault that hurts as good as it soothes. They're often compared to the MC5 (Wayne Kramer is a big fan, and the Cheetahs have even done time as Brutha Wayne's backup band), which is a correct pairing, only a bit louder and pissier, yet just as beautiful. They're about punching up their amps until your tickly parts are moist. They're about ratty Chuck Taylors and blue jeans with the knees torn out. They're about guitar lickin' and phallic symbolizin' and feedback rhapsodizin'. The Cheetahs aren't just rock & roll, they're rawkenro-wo-wo-wo-wolllll!!!!! And that about says it all, really.