To Tell the Truth

Hermosa Beach ills, the Liquid Dens 17 Seconds Thrills

Photo by Tenaya HillsConsidering that my previous trip to Hermosa Beach involved a house party full of drunken, Journey-obsessed air guitar enthusiasts and a Gollum-like investigator for the Securities and Exchange Commission who insisted upon repeatedly putting his arm around me and slithering, "Yessss . . . so ssssexy," my lack of enthusiasm for a Wednesday night jaunt to the Beach was understandable. Or at least I thought so.

"But Ellen! He's my Friendster!" my girl friend pleaded, indicating, well, we'll call him Barney, the shy drummer boy she had met through the Internet. "We have to go to see his band's show! I promised!"

Did you know that nobody lies on Friendster, ever?

Less enthusiastic was her reaction upon spying the hard-rocking himbos and Vince Neil G.I.T.s (Groupies in Training) lined up outside the bar. "I'm sorry," she blurted out, continuing dejectedly, "He said he was a drummer for a pop punk band in his profile. I thought this would at least be tolerable."

After a slight scuffle with the door girl, we met Barney, who promptly charmed us with an on-the-spot drum solo. He even used drumsticks! Real drumsticks! Not air drumsticks! He is a real drummer!

Friendsters cannot tell a lie. Really.

An hour and a half—and one lame, Van Halen-meets-Matchbox 20 runner-up contender for VH1's Bands on the Run—later, Barney's band took the stage. But not before one of Hermosa's Journey-obsessed, air guitar enthusiasts ran on stage and grabbed the mic. "We've got a real special treat for you all," he said, as two drunken girls stumbled onto the stage. Then, Barney launched into a nonsensical solo that only Mick Fleetwood could rival, the two girls took off their shirts and made out with the bassist, and I bolted for the door, my girl friend—and her silly conscience—in tow.

Still, even I cannot tell a lie. While I have solemnly vowed to never return to Hermosa—unless it's to catch one of Flock of 80's resident Wednesday gigs at the Lighthouse—I must admit that perhaps the reason I found Barney's band so disappointing is that I was still reeling from the aurally delicious evening I had spent at the Liquid Den the night before.

17 Seconds, the Liquid Den's fledgling, biweekly soul, post-punk and no-wave club, looks like a Mod-themed costume party—down to the Vespas parked outside—thrown in the basement rec room of a college dormitory, sounds like a compilation of Hullabaloo's greatest hits and feels like a night spent with Ed Sullivan.

When the Clubbed! gang and I arrived, the mostly empty bar was populated by two dozen or so head-bopping Modsters idling on the couches and by the walls, laughing and smiling like shy sophomores at a year-end dance. In the middle of the room, a lone boy in a multi-colored, vertically-striped shirt and a black skinny tie was perfectly performing the official Modster dance—half epilepsy, half arrhythmic St. Vitus dance—think Ian Curtis meets Nancy Sinatra—to the Kinks' "All Day and All of the Night" and waving hello to his friends.

While making my way to the bar—a pilgrimage of five feet, maybe—the Monkeys' "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" came on, and I attempted said modster dance myself, failing miserably due to the fact that I was in flip-flops and scribbling on an envelope. A sign in Crayola marker on the wall advertises a concoction called "Spog"; avid cocktail guinea pig that I am, I ordered a round.

"It's sake, basically," my bartender friend Kenneth informed me, sipping his Spog, "mixed with passion, orange, and guava juice." Sake, I hate. Spog, I adore!

Just as the Yardbirds' "For Your Love" began, Jesse, of striped shirt, Modster-dancing fame, came over and introduced himself. As one of 17 Seconds' promoters, he was bothered by the fact that few people were dancing. I considered telling him that the kids were all right, that they just needed some more Spog, but then I realized that everyone who was dancing was drinking beer.

"Oh, God," I thought. "I'm that girl who ordered the lame novelty cocktail."

Fortunately, my other Spog-sipping pals had by this time commandeered the dartboard, and so, as the adorable, bearded scenester boys looked on, and the suit-sporting Mod boys danced with their cute girlfriends, appropriately, to the Jam's "The Modern World," I retreated to the corner, Spog in hand, and gleefully threw darts in the dark.

And while I might not be Mod—or ever return to Hermosa—so long as there is Spog and 17 Seconds, I think I'll be okay. Honestly.

17 Seconds, featuring nonstop selections from '60s, '70s, and '80s soul, post-punk and no-wave, strikes the Liquid Den every other Tuesday, and would love to have more dancers. Flip-flops not recommended; Vespas optional.

My Space is better than Friendster, anyway! Look me up and invite me out! egriley@ocweekly.com

 
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