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 courtesy of www.JCF.com Beauty School Dropouts/24-7
Friday, Sept. 26
Just for kicks, we thought we'd rip a page from the old Hello, Cleveland rulebook and show up at a club where we knew absolutely nada about the bands on the bill. This strategy has occasionally turned us on to incredible local bands; sometimes it's made us want to run screaming from the room.
Tonight was a screaming situation: within seconds of walking through the front door, we were accosted by frat boys apparently gathered to ogle the ho-bag convention that had broken out. We were especially struck by the she-male with the skintight leather pants that zipped up along the asscrack.
And then our ears were violated by a hideous, piercing wail! We whirled around and were immediately confronted by the aural terrorism of 24/7, an inane bunch of long-locked heavy metal heshers [Editor's note: "Heshers" is derived from "Hessians," the sobriquet applied to 1950s- and '60s-era American bikers whose outlaw status was indicated by a sartorial preference for icons of the recently dispatched German National Socialist Party or for German emblems in general] whose sound could only have been produced by their involuntary responses to the mangling of their own scrota. Here, right before us, was the place metal had come to die: 24/7's twin kick drums, vomitous power ballads, wheedly-wheedly guitars, strobe lights, smoke machines and songs so ghastly that they made us want to commit infanticide. So this is what Guitar Center employees do after they lock the store up! All we wanted to do was take a shower.
But we endured this torture long enough to make it to the next band, Beauty School Dropouts, five boys who had clearly discovered punk in the past year or so, with their ruffled Catholic school shirt-and-necktie ensembles, extensive use of black eyeliner, and falling-over-the-drum-kit dénouement (it's been done, kids—many, many times). But they were actually pretty charming, spewing thrashy, garage-y punk & roll with lots of tinny keyboard sounds hurled in amongst the sloppy guitar stew. There were big, stupid, fun choruses—"Hey, hey, hey!"and "Na-na-na-na-na-na-na!"were our favorites—and even their spoken-word intros were a hoot ("This song's called 'Freight Train' because I'm like a freight train, honey; I keep comin' back for more!"). The songs were simple, but effective—all we know is it was enough to blast the stench left behind by 24/7 out of the club. (Rich Kane)
It's been two long years—and just four singles—since Julieta Venegas recorded her striking sophomore album, Bueninvento. But late October shines with the promised release of Venegas' latest full-length effort, luring the faithful to Latin-alternative cathedral JC Fandango Sunday night to revere Santa Julieta.
El Paso sextet Fuga opened the chilly eve with their dark, unpolished rock/ cumbia fusion—bold, foreboding drums pushing a never-resting bass and the Moorish wails of the lady lead singer toward the more ominous notes of the diatonic scale. Most impressive, though, was a lanky accordionist whose body contorted fold-for-fold with his instrument's billowing. His blasts were almost brutally punk in their charges—brilliant.
We wish we could rave about South Bay-based Mundo Aparte. Sure, the head howler broadcast the tough cant and charisma of an early 1980s rock goddess. But the guitarist engaged in superfluous solos; the music was hard-driving and even pogo-worthy at times but screamed, "poseurs." Mundo Aparte's problems aren't terminal, however—a new bassist, some rhythm, and they'll give any rock-is-back brat a run for their Pabst.
Fuga and Mundo Aparte received polite applause from the crowd. But men shrieked along with women when Venegas hit the stage. She soon showed why her respite from recording was tortuous for music lovers everywhere, diving heart-first into her melancholic slinks and sashays. She spent most of the set prowling the stage, microphone in hand in an almost confessional manner. But when she strapped on an instrument? Wonderful. Venegas fingered her accordion with Gallic chords on "Casa Abandonada"; her acoustic scrapes on "Hoy no Quiero" penetrated the soul.
Venegas rewarded her worshippers for their love with some excellent covers. She transformed the Juan Gabriel fave "Siempre en mi Mente" into the sweetest stalking song ever; José José's "El Triste" became a torch tune worthy of Lola Beltrán. Even lovelier was a samba-fied version of the cumbia standard "El Listón de tu Pelo." And Los Tigres del Norte's "Jaula de Oro" was the embodiment of the Venegas vision, simultaneously commanding, crying, and caring. So she only played one new song—who cares when you have an artist like this? (Gustavo Arellano)