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 (International) Noise Conspiracy
Saturday, May 5
If this is what the revolution is going to be like, make sure you remember your deodorant. While the blood of the oppressors may have been in short supply at smash-the-system rock band the (International) Noise Conspiracy's [(I)NC] Chain Reaction show, the sweat of the workers was pungently and tangibly on everything we happened to touch. But that's a good thing. If you don't go home drenched in some kind of bodily fluid, what's the point of going to a show?
It is testament to the (I)NC's are-you-ready-to-rock?-ability that kids were dancing and shuffling far past the point of dehydration, mustering fast-fading energy (after three previous bands) to bray out one last ragged "Woo-yeah!" as the dance floor transformed into a steam bath. The (I)NC (resplendent in capitalism-smashing white jump suits) barreled through about half of their Survival Sickness album (to which everyone seemed to know the words) and even tossed in a few rarities to keep the faithful guessing, including a new tear-it-up finale that saw singer Dennis Lyxzen tiptoeing out over the crowd with one hand on a convenient rafter and everyone below shaking it like the future depended on it which, the band would have us believe, it does. If it weren't for the far superior fashion sense in evidence, we'd have thought it was 1968 all over again, MC5 revolution-rock keyboard fury and young people casting off their shackles and all that (at least until they had to leave to make it home by curfew).
But we still would have enjoyed a little more talk and a little less rock. With our attention cupped firmly in their sweaty Swedish hands, (I)NC really could have made a good go of penetrating a generation of suburban isolation and ennui with a little calculated discussion. Instead, Lyxzen confined the subversion to quick between-song banter and an appropriately stark red-and-black "ARE WE CONTENT WITH OUR SLAVERY?" banner. But then again, in Orange County, espousing that kind of sentiment has probably already got Nixon twirling in his Yorba Linda tomb. We'll start the revolution small: sweat with us, comrades, and we'll stink our way to freedom!
Radio Vago/The Molly Bolts/The Envy/Kidsicle
Koo's Art Cafe
Sunday, May 6
While you sat home slowly metabolizing a frozen pizza and staring at The Simpsons (which really hasn't been awesome since, like, 1996, people), the real kids were out there in the wild Santa Ana night wallowing in inspiration, communication and rock-the-fuck-outization (and maybe a little dehydration, just like the night before change don't come without a little sweat).
"This is some quality fucking music," someone observed, and they were right. SoapboXX Sessions has been making something happen. Local darlings Kidsicle are definitely on the grrrl-style-now tip: singers/guitar warriors Christy and Lauren have a definite knack for weaving heartfelt vocal tremolos into window-rattling power chords à la old Bikini Kill, and drummer Honey hammers away like she's a Ramone. There is something undeniably awesome about a band that blows an amp ("Want me to drive home and get mine?" volunteered one audience member) and busts a mic and still stands there strumming and singing as loud as their lungs'll let them.
Guitar/drum duo the Envy (from LA, rumored to share DNA with "Sit On My Face, Stevie Nicks!" classicist punkers the Rotters) spun through a snarly indie-rock set rendered absolutely precious by the song "Emo Fashion Show" ("Oh, I wish I had that sweater!"), and Long Beach's the Molly Bolts rocked through some spiky, jangly pop with real polish and bite, especially on the instrumentals and a fuckin' rad cover of the Pixies' "Debaser" (which gives you a hint where they're coming from).
But LA's Radio Vago are nigh invincible. They're the Screamers (or maybe the Delta 5) reincarnated as a bunch of art-school girls and one of the best bands going right now. Singer Adrienne just fireballs charisma, and with their new bass player, Radio Vago are absolutely unfuckwithable, dark and eerie art punk. This is the new wave of the no wave: all sinuous keyboard lines, jagged guitar and Adrienne's throaty purr. Things are just as plastic now as they ever were, but the backlash against boring starts with these kids. In a year, you're gonna be claiming you saw them when, so get the demo now (though it doesn't capture the damage done live) or cry about it on eBay later. If we've learned anything about capitalism, it's that good stuff is free at first, but miss it, and they'll make you pay later.