By Sarah Bennett
By Adam Lovinus
By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nick Keppler
By Nate Jackson
By Alex Distefano
The Tiki Bar
Saturday, April 8
Contrary to what Costa Mesa's finest thought about the US Bombs when they got the band's Kona Lanes show axed last summer, there were, in fact, no swastikas, no sieg-heil shout outs, no HB SKINS tats or anything similarly ugly at this show. The Bombs aren't a Nazi band (which is what at least one member of the Costa Mesa Police Department would have had you believe), just a good ol' bunch of '77-era punkers supplying a grand time for anyone who came.
We did witness a rather tense stare-down, but no blows. Overall, everyone was fairly mellow. Strangely mellow, too, like dormant—here was original, hard, swift, punk, yet we saw not a single pit churn 'round the entire time we were there. Everyone just stood more or less planted and watched the bands and paid attention. Was it because a lot of the older punks who showed up are now approaching the Age of Osteoporosis, too afraid of knocking bone against bone?
Don't know, but this is telling: the biggest skirmish we witnessed involved a minor disagreement over who was first in line at a men's-room urinal, a conversation that went something like this:
"Begging your pardon, but I believe it was my turn at that loo. . . ."
"Egad! Why, you are quite correct, kind sir! Terribly, terribly sorry! Please, by all means, after you!"
"I commend you for your gracious act of chivalry! I say, old boy—'tis a magnificent Mohawk you're sporting!"
"Why, thank you! And those exquisite piercings of yours make you look positively ferocious!"
"As does your sporty, studded dog collar! Fun! You simply must divulge the name of your leather shop. . . ."
It just ain't like the old days.
The Bombs, though, were great, shooting off the kind of high-energy, old-style punk rock that made OC and the Cuckoo's Nest famous all those eons ago. Lead yelper Duane Peters looked very Clockwork Orange in a red bowler hat, his coat caked in buttons, both hands tightly gripping mics (if one is great, then two are even better!), his KILL ME NOW SO I CAN REST tattoo adroitly summing up punk, the universe and everything, a band (and set) that was all grrr and hWAHH! and spewspewspew! and muthafukka! and onetwothreefaw! Sure, we've left blanks here, but you know what they are—you can fill 'em in.Square/Wonderlove
Wonderlove are into Radiohead, waaaaayyyyy into Radiohead. This we knew within moments of their first few notes, when all the high falsettos and Floydian triptology oozed out of their amps in buckets. Well, if Loaded and Never Mind the Bollocks can spawn a zillion bands, so can OK Computer, we suppose, even though that album was very overrated (Gratuitous May-or-May-Not-Be-True Bob Dylan Dig o' the Week: "But at least they're not trying to copy that crappy Blonde on Blonde album! Haw! Haw!").
They're a good band, if a bit overbearing in their winsome keyboard textures and the too-casual, comfortably stoned vocal stylings of their lead singer—space jams for sea slugs. They were better off when they cranked up their guitars and used them to slice through all the malaise, crafting excellent bash-and-crash thunderthons that complemented the music, a credible stimulation of an incredible simulation.
Yet another Square blurb in this week's music pages! You can read a review of their EP. Go ahead, we'll wait. . . .
Okay. Now, the guy who wrote that hadn't yet seen Square live, so we're here to let you know they're a better band than their CD lets on. Onstage, these Nebraska transplants (they won $25,000 in an Ernie Ball-sponsored contest and used the dough to relocate to the Music Capital of the Universe—being, of course, north OC) are into stretching out their pop/jazz/R&B flavors into jam-band music that feels perfectly sculpted for massive Triple-A radio airplay and Dave Matthews Band opening gigs. They've got hooks aplenty; their singer has some of the cleanest, breeziest pipes we've heard since Squeeze's Chris Difford (or was that Glenn Tilbrook?; he also plays keyboards, and his left hand is the band's bassist—how Ray Manzarek!); and their carefree, sunny-sounding songs are a funky amalgam of the Osmonds, Hanson and Steely Dan. The Dan! Yeah—that's it: Square are Steely Dan for people who've blocked out the '70s. A nice band, mostly because what they're doing is so different from what all the other local club bands are doing—it's not punk, not ska, not pop, not emo, not space-rock, guitar-rock, indie or rap—a bit slick, perhaps, and some rougher edges might do them wonders, but nice all the same.