By Sarah Bennett
By Adam Lovinus
By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nick Keppler
By Nate Jackson
By Alex Distefano
Photo by James Bunoan CHEAP LAYS, ROLLING BLACKOUTS, MYSTERY GIRLS
ALEX'S BAR, LONG BEACH
SUNDAY, FEB. 10
The Cheap Lays—featuring noted local LA rock scribe Namella J. Kim on bass and art-rocker Brett Schultz on guitar, sockless tonight for no doubt political reasons—couldn't bite the Germs more if they showed up to Darby's crypt with a crowbar, a satchel full of forks and a little dental floss. And we mean that with lots of love: Schultz's songs have that same Germs-y unpredictability, splicing in chord flip-flops and rhythm changes that made what would have been still-fun trashy punk suddenly very interesting. Singer John—before the sound guy unwisely turned him up—had the requisite sandpaper caterwaul and petulant stage presence, and Nam had the blotto charisma. Halfway in, she flopped the bass off her shoulder and tried to fake fight (or maybe not?) hungover hipsters in the audience. No one else in the band seemed to notice; they probably stab and puke on each other as a matter of professional routine. For their grand finale, Nam dumped her bass again and slunk off stage left while John went to rescue her instrument: "Amazing," he said, raking his hand across the strings. "After all that, it still works!"
The Blackouts were as predictably solid as ever; you know all the adjectives we'd use anyway—if you didn't, they're all permutations on "FUCKING AWESOME"—so we'll skip to the magical Mystery Girls. It was a mystery whether they were even going to show up—it's a long drive from Wisconsin, especially during rush hour—but they moped in during the ass-end of the Blackouts' set. Casey (harmonica and vocals) does a physics-defying hip swivel that only the most cybernetically augmented senior citizens could hope to match; the Girls behind him go after their own bleary-eyed teenage take on rock & roll with competence and enthusiasm beyond their peach-fuzzy years.
But it wasn't quite the Christmas morning we were hoping for: trust in God that their CD will kill you in 8 million glorious ways, but a wisp of road-weary malaise somehow snuck into the set tonight. Without the goggle-eyed choke-on-your-own-tongue panache that the Cheap Lays probably have to scrub out of their gummy mouths every Sunday morning, the Mystery Girls had to be temporarily downgraded from shit-yourself-awesome to merely solid quality. Evolution in rock & roll isn't based on lockstep Western linearity; instead, like the Wheel of Life, true enlightenment demands progress from humiliation and degradation to sublimity and then back again. The Mystery Girls know this; take it as a testament to their measured stoicism that on a down night, the worst the world could say was that they got stuck at mundanely sublime. Next time, either they or we are just going to have to be drunker. (Chris Ziegler)LOS AMIGOS INVISIBLES/DJ AFRO/NATURAL AFRODISIAC
Turns out they were. Twiddling the venue's collective twat was DJ Afro, the nome de mix of Amigos guitarist José Luis Pardo. He proved himself as expert a jam jockey as he is an axe-grinder, and people gravitated toward Pardo once word of his spinning spread, yearning to touch their hero's great frizzy mane. But they arrived too late; Pardo disappeared while a deliriously hot track kept pounding, pounding, pounding . . .
Then the curtains opened. Pardo was onstage with the rest of Los Amigos; they had been grinding out the rhythm all along. The crowd moaned, aching for more of the same. But as if to remind the audience that love isn't solely about the deep-dicking, Los Amigos opened with "Amor," a funky ode to the grandness of innocent adoration. More pop pleasantries followed, weaning the spectators from the climax they nearly reached with Pardo's previous scratches. After lead singer Julio Briceño sighed the serene "Si Estuvieras Aquí," Los Amigos lovers resigned themselves to declaring the evening nothing more than a mean prick tease.
But the group's sound turned more and more lascivious as the concert progressed and Briceño began glistening with sweat. The look of love that once twinkled from his soft eyes became a leer as his sextet launched into their rhythmic raunch. Briceño's pelvic persuasions shivered the audience to their gonads; when he rested the mic stand over his crotch and swung it over the pit, men and women lunged for the aural appendage as if they were Jenna Jameson swallowing Lexington Steele. The randy hits came quicker than a virgin: that airy amen a ass action known as "El Disco Anal" was followed by the on-all-fours-please! 78rpm-er "Ponerte en Cuatro." And when Los Amigos finished their sonic sex with the mega-merengue "El Sobón," the crowd shrieked in ecstasy: their boys had finally taken them all the way. (Gustavo Arellano)