Diary of a Loud County

The Year In Live Reviews

THE BLANK TAPES

THE GYPSY DEN, COSTA MESA

SATURDAY, FEB. 28

We entered the Gypsy Den as Matt Adams was in the midst of banging out a sweet Ray Davies-esque number on his Hendrix/Clash/Misfits-stickered acoustic, with a couple of kazoo players and a bassist in tow. The place was mobbed—people standing at the end of the ordering line kept bumping into Adams' mic stand. This was what a front-porch hootenanny in the 1920s would have felt like, we guess, with harmonicas and banjo solos and finger snaps keeping the beat and hard-luck lines about having no money in your pocket and hopping trains to get around because somebody made off with your bike. (RK)

TOM MORELLO

ACROSS THE STREET FROM TACO BELL WORLD HEADQUARTERS, IRVINE

FRIDAY, MARCH 5

Woody Guthrie made his most prominent séance via ex-Rage Against the Machine/current Audioslaver Tom Morello. Billing himself as the Night Watchman, Morello proved that Audioslave is really just a bad anomaly—his subsequent 12-bar, acoustic guitar-and-harmonica odes to Ohio steelworkers, West Virginia miners and Guatemalan sweatshop workers "who got your job" could've been played for the Wobblies. Morello dedicated his final song to the uniformed security forces eyeballing him, "with hope that one day they realize that they have more in common with the people [in the crowd] than the corporate leeches who pay them to protect them." (GA)

THE HELMUT STEIN EXPERIENCE

THE GYPSY LOUNGE, LAKE FOREST

SATURDAY, MARCH 13

The classy R&B/soul/blues outfit Helmut Stein Experience is headed up by the big, throbbing organ of R. Scott and the sultry, smoky pipes of blond, braless singer April Sweeney, who wore a slinky black dress she kept pulling up to avoid a Janet. "Bet you something's gonna pop out," we swear we told the sound guy in back. Then, after she stroked her microphone, after she dropped to her knees, after she wailed and wailed with the awesome power of someone who could easily front a Janis Joplin tribute band, there it was, right at the end of their set: boobage! And don't even try telling us that wasn't planned! We were so startled—hey, it ain't like we get to see a pair of mammaries in person that often—we almost forgot they didn't do our favorite tune, "On Return." But as far as lasting impressions go, they sure left two. (RK)

GOFORTH

THE GYPSY LOUNGE, LAKE FOREST

SATURDAY, APRIL 10

This was a wake for a band that deserved better things—a set of GoForth's terrifically hooky rock & roll that blazed brighter as their hour-plus wore on, their excellence manifested in the physical presence of the orgasmically gyrating girl in the middle of the room who wiggled along to every note as if GoForth were the greatest band ever (we don't think it was the alcohol dictating to her, either) and our own notepad, which a mere three songs in developed a huge dent where we had banged it ferociously in time against the stool we were perched on. Every song thrilled, each from a hit record that could've been. (RK)

THE PIXIES

GLASS HOUSE, POMONA

FRIDAY, APRIL 30

The Pixies finished with a few loopy waves goodbye and left, except . . . then the techs came out, tuned up Kim Deal's fat red Fender, snapped off a couple of beats on the drums and darted purposefully into the backstage dark. You coulda cut the sense of entitlement with a knife: either big-music execs used to getting what they want or the truest of fans (a formidably impoverished portion of whom hadn't figured they'd be able to see the Pixies for months, if at all) who well-deserved anything they could get. And we'd all been promised encores (and that Neil Young cover!) by setlists on the Internet, and they had still skipped a giant chunk of catalog—"Monkey Gone to Heaven," "Here Comes Your Man," most if not all of Trompe le Monde—and now we were at the special-person secret show with all the equipment fluffed up and ready to go? Rich people must feel this certain of good things every goddamn moment of their lives. And then the techs came out again and hit every off switch onstage. Hmm. Everyone's smiles went stiff. A few people chanted, "PIX-IES, PIX-IES" and clapped, but 3,000 cubic feet of uncomfortable silence snuffed that out before the house lights came on. "People don't know how to put up much of a fight anymore," I said; that's what happens when your fan base is all people who never got up the guts to ask someone to prom. (Chris Ziegler)

MANIC HISPANIC

GALAXY CONCERT THEATRE, SANTA ANA

WEDNESDAY, CINCO DE MAYO

Two fights broke out only half an hour into the performance, and the pit's brutish swirl would've classified as a race riot anywhere else in Orange County. Nevertheless, la naranja's boiling ethnic tension disappeared for an evening, thanks to the power of parody. "Today, I'm going to catch myself a skinhead!" Mike "Gabby" Gaborno sneered during an overrefried make of "American Society" before throwing a piñata into the crowd. The worst residents of Huntington Beach and Santa Ana united in tearing it to pieces—better than one another, you know? (GA)

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