By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
Photo by James BunoanMonroe/Coming Close/Ferlin/847
Chain Reaction, Anaheim
Sunday, Jan. 11
Short-Attention-Span Night at Chain Reaction—six bands, 25-minute sets apiece, all within four and a half hours. Buy 'em by the sack!
First up were a dreaded number band from Sacramento, 847, who were about as interesting as their name. They had some nice keyboard flourishes to distinguish their otherwise tame sound, but not nearly enough, and within their first few songs they revealed themselves to be all about caricature—about volume for the sake of volume and wanton body contortions at the expense of creating any real aural art. And, being from Sacto, they had to toss in a gratuitous Arnold reference whilst dedicating their song "State of the Union" (which we think they really meant to call "State of the State"). Continuing the Cali travelogue, they did a ditty dubbed "I Left My Chainsaw in San Francisco," which we can only hope is not about slicing up queers, and "Rally Song for the Stagnant," which came off as moribund as the title implies. Overall, they sounded sort of Incubus-y, or maybe more like an Incubus tribute band (shudder!), only with 12 times the saccharine. Apparently Tesla and Cake's standing as the only two famous bands to ever come from the Capitol City is still safe.
Next were Ferlin, whose first onstage utterances were "Tonight we're gonna rock out for you guys!"—and only got worse once they started playing. Much to the displeasure of our bile ducts, here was yet another band where the lead singer drones in the most nasally, unmasculine whine imaginable, so ungodly crappy that they left skid marks on our eardrums. After just a couple songs, they then had the nerve to push their merch from the stage, as if anyone outside of their parents/friends circle would ever find good reason to part with their hard-earned dinero for a Ferlin shirt (instead of establishing a Ferlin retail wing, we suggest the band spend their money on music lessons). And then they played one more song: "Call It Quits," unaware of neither the irony nor the chuckling kids in the crowd who surely wished the band would follow their own advice.
Coming Close were a band to be feared, if only for the invasion of all the snaggly-toothed camcorder-wielding parents who stood proudly in the back of the room as their fresh-faced teenage kids took the stage—so young, in fact, that they looked like they had yet to experience the Clearasil stage of life. After the sonic stain of Ferlin, we had our guard up, and when they beckoned with a lame audience call for body movement, we thought people certainly would—right out the exit door. But then they began by blowing off a decent Judas Priest riff, and they somehow gradually became . . . not horrible, especially during the moments when they weren't singing, and instead diving fully into some anthemic instrumental power-chord passages that smelled like ripe old Smashing Pumpkins. They weren't good in that I'll-listen-to-this-instead-of-OutKast-any-day way, and we're likely never going to slap them on a CD player while shtupping our mate or careening dangerously down the freeway, but their cleansing, hearty guitars suggested that there may be something here to write about in further detail, given another year or two.
Monroe were flat-out awful—sloppy and all over the map, cursed with an assclown singer who could do anything but, who started off by talking really loud into his mic, which of course devolved into a flurry of pointless, stupid screaming, and for absolutely no other reason than he probably doesn't get much love at home or school (and mindless yelping is always the last refuge of a sonically-challenged scoundrel). We even bet that their shirtless drummer had stick-on tattoos. And then when the singer's monitor wasn't sufficiently loud enough for him, and he asked the sound guy for more volume, we heard one wag shout "FUCK YOU!" (not us, mind you, though we thought about it). And this right before they did a tune called "P.S. I Hate You.," the second instance of the night when the band onstage reviewed themselves! By this time, though, our attention span had spun, so we cut out for home to catch the vastly more entertaining Alias.