Summer Camp

KC & THE SUNSHINE BAND
HOUSE OF BLUES, ANAHEIM
FRIDAY, AUG. 2
After weeks of enduring oafish plunk-plop combos and whiny emo-esque inbreeds, what we were desperate for was some aural comfort food—nothing trendy (is White Stripes fever over yet? Please?), nothing that was supposed to make us think, nothing boorish or screechy. No, what we needed was some sugar: some eardrum bubble gum, something that would make it okay for us to live rapturously and unashamedly in our boyhood '70s again, back before we got old and found out from mean, mean rock critics (kind of like the ones we turned into) that we really weren't supposed to like any of it. The killjoy shits.

What we needed was . . . KC & the Sunshine Band!

So there was the now-balding, slightly paunchy, 51-year-old Harry Wayne "KC" Casey—the whitest white boy disco ever knew—running onto the House of Blues stage after a big build-up that included assorted gyrating from a quartet of buxom girl dancers ("Now that's what I call bootylicious!" KC drooled to the lass writhing next to him. She looked less than half his age; simulated copulating between the two would grotesquely occur later). Even tighter than the girls' shorts was the band, with assorted conga and horn players to re-create those faux-Miami rhythms that got KC all those hit records eons ago. And KC—always looking to please the proletariat—was there to make the crowd of largely 40- and 50-year-old gay men, still-single women, and one fabulously wardrobed, platinum-wigged drag queen happy, promising they'd play all the hits—and that's just what they did, with not one shred of irony, either!

On they came, like manna from bad-taste heaven: "Get Down Tonight!" "Boogie Shoes!" "I'm Your Boogie Man!" "That's the Way (I Like It)!" "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty!" "Give It Up!" During "Please Don't Go," KC stood stock still and serious while crooning into his headset mic, pointing at an imaginary exit somewhere offstage each time he got to the "minute you walk out that door" line, which may have been the single most awesome sight we'll behold on a stage all year (are we being ironic? We're not sure). Then KC sprinkled glitter dust over the mob shimmying in the front rows, and he let us know that that the American Dream Can Come True and that we live in the Greatest Country on Earth. He even God-blessed us! And it all felt soooo good.


Abba Lives! BJORN AGAIN
THE GROVE OF ANAHEIM
FRIDAY, AUG. 9
Stop Two on our High Camp mini-tour was a week later with Bjorn Again, the internationally famous Abba tribute band—really famous, too, like sold-out-Wembley famous. Kurt Cobain loved them so much he threatened to yank Nirvana off a European festival if Bjorn Again weren't added to the bill—and he won!

This is a tribute band who mimic the original players, so we had "Benny," who actually looked a lot like a bearded Dana Rohrabacher; "Agnetha" and "Anni-Frida," who spent a lot of time grinding their backsides against each other while indulging in perfectly synchronized arm gestures; and shaggy-blonde-locked "Bjorn," who probably plays his guitar in a death-metal band when he's being his un-Abba self. Though we never saw the real Abba, Bjorn Again is as close to the full-on deal as we're ever likely to want. They came onstage wearing satin kimonos with their names emblazoned on the backs and played note-perfect takes on all the smashes: "Take a Chance on Me," "Mamma Mia," "Waterloo," "Fernando" and the inevitable "Dancing Queen," during which several drunk guys leaped onstage to touch "Anni-Frida" (they mercifully weren't kicked out, saving them the embarrassment of having to explain to their friends why they were home so early).

Even more fun were Bjorn Again's fake Swedish accents, which sounded more French-Canadian to our ears: "Hello, Anaheim! How are yoo doink tonight?" "Anaheim, are yoo retty to ruck and roooooll?" "It is now time for some deesco dancink!" "There ist only one beast, Bjorn—the beast of ruck & roooooll!" (This before a bizarre "Born to Be Wild" cover—Abba does Steppenwolf?) "Sank yoo all so much, Anaheim! Yoo are all so bootyful!" It was a hoot, but not quite as big as the one when they segued into the Police tune "Message In a Bottle" out of "SOS," a misguided attempt at being contemporary—really, who wants fake Abba updating real Abba?

Still, as campy, brainless entertainment goes, Bjorn Again ruled. For 90 minutes, it was as if divorces and slow record sales never did the real Abba in.

 
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