One More Goddamn It

Photo by James Bunoan THE LORDS OF ALTAMONT/THE PAYBACKS
ALEX'S BAR, LONG BEACH
SATURDAY, APRIL 5

They didn't set anything on fire (at least not by the time we showed up), but biker-camp punkers the Lords of Altamont did have a prudently monochromatic, hippie, lava-lamp light show cascading across the back wall—maybe that's why they blew a fuse about two songs in, leaving the entire band bewildered and silent onstage except for the singer and drummer. The anticlimax was so thick you could set your Guinness on it. And the results? "Who fucked me? You fucked me? In what hole?" booming out over Long Beach's tattoo-iest, trailing off into something about bombing motherfuckers. Alex's minions finally got the Lords turned back on—discounting a quick midsong guitar-amp-on-10 adjustment by the singer—and although it may have sounded not-so-hot to them, it sounded pretty great to us. That last-minute caveman-crude mix—as raw as a swarm of hickeys, if not as sloppy—suits the Lords extra well, particularly when the only thing between you and the PA is two drunk girls and their big hairstyles. The Lords are supposed to sound something like the "swampy" Cramps, we're told, but tonight, it was tuff-'n'-dumb Dead Boys-style fun, good-ol' Chuck-Berry-on-45 riffs tussling with batty hyperdriven '60s organ. They tried to get everyone onstage for a grand finale, but—except for two superfans, who performed admirably under pressure—the lumpen stayed grounded. Maybe they were saving themselves for pogo darlings the Briefs (who should goddamn well play "Let's Get Rid of New York" again—the times demand it!). We were saving ourselves for the Paybacks, who promised a lot: girl on vocals, Detroit plates on the tour van, and half the band sporting outerwear slathered in beer logos. On paper, that's enough to get anyone who has ever mail-ordered from Bomp! up front, drunk and center. But three chords in, we realized they'd hit the wall. Like the cheap beer they so obviously loved, they weren't bad, per se—it's just that you couldn't help thinking there were better ways to have fun. Without the astringent aftertaste even. Detroit does still kinda rule, but tonight, it took a little more than the Paybacks—we need some premium-brewed Clone Defects in here instead!

SQUEAK TOY/SQUAB
QUE SERA, LONG BEACH
SATURDAY, APRIL 5

We're probably the only people who left before the Briefs played—not to pile one more futile goddamn it on the charred corpse of Great White, but the fire marshalls are putting the screws to undeserving clubs, and now even Alex's has strict one-in-one-out capacity rules. But we had dues to pay across town at the one-year anniversary of Club CURVE, Chase Frank's female-foregrounding music night at Que Sera. It's a tearfully welcome counterpoint to the bro-core and wimpy-unrequited-crushmo that has tainted this generation, and while we're not always into what Chase puts onstage, we'll enthusiastically acknowledge that she is never, ever predictable. Case in point: Squeak Toy, Long Beach's theater geeks-gone-improv jazz (or something; they have bass, drums, sax and keys, and they do things with them). They were much more subdued tonight than the Pee-wee's Playhouse in Hell fiasco we've seen them as before—breakdancing yarmulke girl, why have you forsaken us?—but singer Linda still charms like a pro. Maybe it was her car out on Cherry with the SQK TOY plates—we hope so because that'd be even more charming. Squab crept up next, after some prodding from Chase ("Quit playing Centipede, and go play your drums!"), continuing that gentle upward trudge toward semi-consciousness. Maybe the Briefs were black-holing everyone's energy tonight, but there was a bit of what they used to call a malaise onstage. But then again: Squab just got back from tour, and they were still riding that on-the-road ťlan through a sewn-up-tight set, even if they were a bit weary. They hid a few new songs in there, telegraphing a move toward ambitiously symphonic—you know, like with two keyboards!—songwriting, though keyboardist/drummer Tracy stayed away from her set pretty much all night. One of the best parts of Squab's dance-drone post-punk is the superheavy rhythm section, especially in a small club like the Que, and we're hoping they're not gonna abandon that any time soon. And besides, the, um, select audience—again, we blame the Briefs—seemed to really rev when Tracy and LaDawn hunkered down for their trademark double-drum attack. We split right when they were done, having developed a little sleepiness ourself. They debuted a new song called "Hermit Style," something with, like, 8,000,000 different parts woven together with Rosy's spacey vocals, and by the time they finished, hermit style sounded really, really good.

 
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