Live Reviews

Photo by Matt Otto VAN HALEN Arrowhead Pond, Anaheim, Mon., Aug. 16 Whatever happened to the Hessian class of '84? The lanky, mulleted stoner boys who dreamed of someday drumming like Neil Peart or howling like Bruce Dickinson? And their skanky, feather-haired girlfriends who fantasized of deep-throating Dee Snider when they weren't scribbling imaginary love notes to Vince Neil across the fronts of their Pee-Chees? Now we know. Somehow, after several rehab stints, they all intermarried and grew up to be rich Newport Beach Republicans. How else explain the preponderance of Benzes in the parking lot of this Van Halen nostalgia show and their owners' willingness to fork out the cash for $90-and-up tickets (we'll say it again: back in '84, people got all snitty about the Jacksons charging $30 a pop for ducats to the Victory tour … Jesus, we are fucking old!) and $35 T-shirts that blurt VAN HALEN KICKS ASS on the back? The whole thing felt like a big 20-year high school reunion--bastions of early-40-ish types acting and talking as if they were 17 again and the '90s never happened. But the guys are losing their hair, and their wives/girlfriends/sluts went and got boob jobs and all matter of plasticized accoutrements and weren't shy about showing them off this night. Ever see a 40-year-old woman in black fishnets standing in the middle of a room and wagging her ta-tas in the hopes that Sammy Hagar will notice her? We have. And we may never be the same again. No, time has not been kind to these graduates of the Heavy Metal Parking Lot. But Van Halen seemed to be totally, weirdly ageless. Both Eddie and Alex walked onstage with their shirts off, buffed and waxed, ready to go, while Michael Anthony and Sammy looked exactly as we remembered them. Ageless-or do they just refuse to grow up, preferring to indulge in the extended adolescence rawk provides? Oh, yeah . . . we watched as Eddie sucked on several cigarettes, even though he had part of his tongue removed because of cancer. And we saw Sammy, Mike and Ed take gulps from whatever the audience handed them, even though Ed did time in alcohol rehab, unless it was grape juice in those cups, but we doubt it (Mike even brought out that old Jack Daniels bass--isn't that the very definition of "enabling"?). It felt uncomfortably like paying to watch Courtney Love shoot up between her toes. But whatever. Close your eyes, and you could've transported back to the heyday of big arena rock, what with "Why Can't This Be Love," "Best of Both Worlds," "Runaround," even the old David Lee Roth-era standards like "Jump," "Unchained," "Panama" and "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love." All four guys took long, tortuous solo turns, Hagar kept bellowing, "Anaheim!" and "Are we having fun yet?" and during "Poundcake," the song's video flashed overhead, returning everyone back to the era of big-haired video vixens. And spittle from a drunken douchebag who hollered for "I Can't Drive 55" landed on the back of my head. Y'know, Gary Cherone is probably glad he got out when he did. (Rich Kane)

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MATMOS Winifred Smith Hall, Claire Trevor School of the Arts, UC Irvine SECT Seminar, Irvine, Sat., Aug. 21

Within a small community of experimental electronic music enthusiasts--EEMEs, we should call ourselves--Matmos are legends. They're best known for their collaborations with Bjork, but the electronic duo won a place in critics' hearts by using unconventional sounds in their compositions: on 1999's A Chance to Cut is A Chance to Cure, Matmos turned filtered samples of the snips, clips, suctions, and squelches that occur during cosmetic surgery into a bouncy electronic album; their latest EP, Rat Relocation Program, samples a rat they captured in a non-lethal "Have A Heart Trap" and later set free in a wealthy suburban neighborhood.

But neither dirty little rats nor upscale suburbia brought Matmos to Irvine. Instead, it was out-there intellectualism—the kind found at the University of California's Humanities Research Institute, which is headquartered at UC Irvine. Half of Matmos—which is to say Drew Daniel—is a critical theory nut. He was going to be in town, anyway, to attend this summer's Seminar In Critical Theory (SECT) titled "Psychoanalysis, Politics and the Event"; on a whim he asked the local eggheads if Matmos could perform at the symposium. Thus was created one of the more unusual musical juxtapositions of the year: the ballet aficionados exiting luxury cars outside the Barclay while the Coke-bottle-glasses crowd found its way to more radical art around the bend.

Despite the Ivory Tower setting and a number of grad students and professors in the crowd exchanging meta-analysis, the Matmos performance was as light-hearted as their records. Their casual feel sets Matmos apart from more mathematical electronic brethren like Autechre and Oval. Daniel and M.C. Schmitt (Matmos' other half) set this tone before a single note was played, walking around the auditorium before the show, talking to the crowd. When the lights went down and the audience applauded, M.C. cut through the clapping and said relax: "It's not like you guys didn't just see us 20 seconds ago."

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