Bring on the Dancing, Drunken Old Guys!

MOTHER TONGUE/LINLEY
GYPSY LOUNGE
FRIDAY, APRIL 19
Back at the Gypsy Lounge for the first time in eons, we were met with a smashed restroom sink (a bit of performance art that went down the night before; what kind of inbred ignoramus gets that rowdy on a Thursday night?) and a consistent stream of Rolling Rock welcome-back fuel, courtesy of owner Mike Concepcion. We like Mike!

And we also like Linley, whose demo CDs and persistent slew of phone messages have pretty much forced them upon us for a few months now. They're a five-person pop-rock band, with new wave-y keyboards and claimed references that include Weezer, the Pixies and the Strokes. The band could play up more of a White Stripes angle, since we hear that Jannie, the keys player, may be married or related to somebody in the band, though their bio doesn't reveal who. So . . . are they husband and wife? Brother and sister? Husband and wife and brother and sister? Nothing like a good rumor to build that buzz, y'know. What kills buzz, though, is a raggedy set, and that's what Linley gave us at the outset—too much distorted meandering and not enough creamy goodness, which we know they're capable of from listening to the CDs. They knew this, too, and said so. But as soon as they publicly verbalized the sound problems, they started sounding better—confession is good for the soul, especially when you follow with a take on the Reverend Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," which peaked with a lovely, jangly crescendo. They hit their atmospheric stride with their last tune, bringing up ex-Teen Hero Peter Berberich (who seems to be guesting in everybody's band these days) and ending in a flurry of chaotic jumps and throwing people around the floor—a fun finish to a wobbly beginning.

Next were Mother Tongue, an LA band who've cursed themselves not only with an icky name but also with such self-centered tactics as all four guys suddenly stopping, pausing for a couple of beats, then going right back into the song. Do this once or twice, fine, but they seemed to drag this shtick out during every tune, which made their already overlong numbers stretch out well beyond the realm of listenability—the kind of music-school wanking punk rock was meant to destroy. Though they were rather funky and soulful at times, we kept getting distracted by their extremely hairy guitar player, who bore an uncanny resemblance to a Sasquatch, and their ego-trippin' singer, who started demanding that the standoffish crowd come closer to the stage, the better to experience their alleged brilliance. Silly rock star—why would anyone want to get closer to a pile of freshly laid poo? They were just too mechanical and forced for our ears, though the Sasquatch was a decent enough player; too bad he's stuck in such a bland combo.

THE SANTIAGO STEPS
KING NEPTUNE'S
SATURDAY, APRIL 20
After a long, hard day of watching Nazis invade La Habra, what did we want to do most? Escape the oppression with some good music—something warm, friendly and lacking in bloodthirsty totalitarianism. So what better band to make us feel hopeful about humanity than the Santiago Steps, a sweet guitar pop band peppered with alluring flutes and trumpets, yet muscular enough not to lull us to sleep? While they can be pretty and gentle, they can also fully rock out whenever they please, which they kinda had to do during the frequent moments when the packed Neptune's bar crowd started yacking up a slovenly, drunken storm—the incessant vocal-cord hum made the band sound like they were playing inside a Cuisinart. They played one of our favorite tunes first, "Parrots in Orange Trees," so we would have been happy with just that. Near the end of their set, two guys who appeared to have been having too much of a good time got right up in front of the band and started rubbing each other about as intimately as two presumably hetero males should. Quite a sight, but then Dan Perkins of Lo-Fi Champion (who played later) told us that if we stuck around, we'd see swarms of old drunks acting much, much worse. We took Dan's word for it and bailed—we'd witnessed enough ugliness for one day.
 
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