Not Merely Bad, But Also Dangerous!

Sugarcult/Cheswick/Fish People
Chain Reaction
Saturday, Jan. 6
Back from our long holiday weekend, during which we rang in 2001 in the squashed confines of Times Square, watching an endless cacophony of tanked-up people as they barfed and peed all over themselves—fun! Still, it was certainly nice to leave freezing NYC and return to our normal, shorts-and-T-shirts, Locals Only uniform. We looove our dear, dear OC. We'll never, ever leave home again.

Unless the Fish People are playing, that is. Another gig from them, and we're renouncing our citizenship and fucking defecting. Like the equally terrifying Four Letter Words, the Fish People are very, very bad, but at least they (hopefully) know the extent of their atrociousness, in which case it all just becomes performance art. So that's what they gave us: four guys who couldn't play (but seemed to be attempting something that felt vaguely punkesque, though we're still awaiting results from the lab), led by the spazzy caterwauling of their front man (who spent lots of time rolling around on the ground), with occasional guest appearances from some dude in a Russian sailor suit for no apparent reason. The Fish People weren't merely bad—they were dangerous, a point punctuated when an acquaintance who knows us kept giving us these annoyed, murderous looks and threatened to shoot holes in the OC Weekly for daring to run an article on the band that week ("Who wrote that?!?" he demanded. "Was it YOU?!?" Yow! No, sir, it wasn't us!). Really, if you're going to be a joke band so blatantly, you should at least remember this rule: be funny. Even the diaper that the bassist wore was a bore, a prop copped straight from P-Funk—though we're pretty sure the diaper's intended contents alone possessed more talent than these smelly Fishies. "Better than the Stones!" we uttered jokingly near the end to an equally pained observer. "Better than the stones that are in my garden!" was his sharp comeback, to which we replied, "Okay, well . . . better than the stones forming in our kidneys." Not by much, though.

Thank Allah for Cheswick, then, who on the whole were a fairly ordinary emo outfit but coming after the Fish People felt like Total Fucking Godhead. Cheswick were all about ringing guitars, thunderclap drums, dreamy, sad, pop ditties and a required-by-law-to-sound-like-Morrissey lead singer. They had some nice, sweet melodies touched with a solid dose of not overly dramatic melodrama, and their ballads were genteel and lovingly composed (though the singer could've used some elocution lessons —those genteel, lovingly composed ballads may have been about corpse-raping, for all we know).

Better still were Sugarcult, a power-pop-with-punk-accents band from Santa Barbara (home of such legendary bands as, ummm . . . Ugly Kid Joe?) who seemed to have brought an actual cult of worshipers down the 101 with them. After a somewhat tedious warm-up, they fell right into this nifty Elvis Costello/Buzzcocks mode— high-powered tunes loaded with fitting, snarling vocals, ear-aching riffs and assorted whatnots laid down in all the spots where we expected to find them. They covered in friendly, functional fashion "I Wanna Be Sedated"—quite stirring, actually. Speaking of which: Might we recommend that the Fish People undergo permanent sedation? Please?

SEND CDS, TAPES, SHOW DATES, LOVE LETTERS, INCOHERENT RAMBLINGS, WHATEVER TO LOCALS ONLY, OC WEEKLY, P.O. BOX 10788, COSTA MESA, CA 92627-0247.

 
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