Diary of a Loud County

The Year In Live Reviews

NU-MARK

DETROIT BAR, COSTA MESA

SATURDAY, MAY 15

This Detroit gig was the last of Nu-Mark's string of shows supporting his solo mix CD, and this turned out to be one of the loosest, highest-energy dates of the tour, said fellow Jurassic 5 DJ Cut Chemist, who had the nerve to tease the crowd by hanging out on the side of the stage yet never venturing toward the turntables. Nu-Mark broke from the script by mixing Cannabis' bluster over some ethereal Marvin Gaye soul, and then turned on the Brazilian standard "Berimbau." He quickly returned to the program when Jurassic MC Chali 2na hopped onstage to rap during the third quarter of the show, dovetailing with his appearance in the last third of the album. Everybody went nuts for it, as 2na proved once again that his baritone is one of the most distinctive voices in hip-hop. Toward the end of the gig, just as with the album, MC J-Live took his turn flowing to Nu-Mark's beats, and then J-Live took over the turntables. Suddenly freed from responsibilities, Nu-Mark's epoxied look of determined focus dropped from his face for something truly unexpected: a smile--the beaming, gleeful, satisfied look of a man who had just completed a mission. (Andrew Asch)

THE AVENGERS

FITZGERALD'S, HUNTINGTON BEACH

THURSDAY, JUNE 17

Singer Penelope Houston looked good—not lecher-good but wholesome-good, a Glenda in a bubble beaming beatifically off the front-row fistfighters, one of whom was a girl with a cane. It was such cuddly shit: lots of sing-alongs, to-a-person smile-alongs, girls all in denim and eyeliner clapping hands on their hips in time with the snare drum, and afterward, everyone lining up for photos with Penelope like a class field trip to see Sleeping Beauty at Disneyland. And around the periphery: the old punks, the best, the loner guys with bad ties and bad posture, hiding under their droopy eyes and comb-overs and meekly handing Penelope a Dangerhouse seven-inch and a Sharpie. Do you ever feel like your dad is sad sometimes, and you can't do anything about it? That's because he had a life before you, and he misses it, and some nights, he wants to think about girls he knew before your mom. (CZ)

BIG BUSINESS

KOO'S, LONG BEACH

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 24

All Big Business is is low end, low end buried under low end until it blooms into a black hole and collapses in on itself; Jared Warren and Coady Willis' thrust-and-response Melvins metal is that woozy back-and-forth head bob you get when your brain starts to float after a long, hard, heavy, brutal . . . well, whatever. Big Business: music for nights that, no matter where they go on the way, are determined to end curled around a nice cold toilet. The last song had such a minutely intricate drum pattern—Willis' jaw tight like he was chawing a ball of beef jerky—it instantly sounded like they'd fucked it up: the bass started peeling off the drums, and Warren's face flattened, red and angry, into his neck as he tried to cock an eye down at his effects pedals; his stubble piled into the trenches in his double chin. "Fuck," he said. "Fuck shit!" The microphone was digging around in his mouth like a flashlight after cavities. "Piss fuck shit!" he said. "Fuck it!" He knocked the pedals from side to side with his toe, and everyone pivoted slowly away from Willis—hey, cussin'!—to see what he was gonna do now that the song had popped a tire, and he went, "Shit shit shit shit shit!" And that was it. (CZ)

Keep on Wockin'
Bay City Rollers, Alex's Bar,
Long Beach, July 9

BAY CITY ROLLERS

ALEX'S BAR, LONG BEACH

FRIDAY, JULY 9

No one would get closer than 15 feet to the band except one guy so drunk he was floor-punching and one whitehair in flannel who was yelling, "They're all fags! They all got married and dropped the soap!" when the Rollers asked if anyone out there was in love. Every time someone laughed or pointed, the temperature dropped, and they kept laughing and pointing until the room was iced over with a bitter Freon chill I could feel in my teeth, and my fingerprints fogged through the frost on my drink, and the Rollers played "Bad Case of Lovin' You." And then they played "Shang-a-Lang" and tried to get people to talk to them, and then they thanked us all for rockin'—"Wockin'!" he says, a Scot accent tangling around his ankles—and then they told us to keep on wockin', to keep on WOCKIN' IN THE DA FREE WOILD! (CZ)

SONIC YOUTH

THE GLASS HOUSE, POMONA

SUNDAY, JULY 19

The critics are starting to get surly that Sonic Youth aren't quite as Youthful as the advertising could suggest—whatever, Black Flag weren't black, either—and they're floating this idea that somewhere there's a mandatory yearly standard of innovation the band's got to hit by virtue of, you know, oldness. But like a wise guy said, the Beach Boys washed up at 27, the Velvet Underground collapsed at 28, and Kurt Cobain was dead on the ground at 27, too, but Sonic Youth is uninterrupted and unmistakably alive at 23 as a band, never mind the ages of everybody in it, and maybe it's not because they're so fearlessly (or just obviously) experimental, but that they can now and then and most of the time write a song so effective and fundamental it doesn't suffer for a second with two tons of spacey foot-pedal superstructure sagging on top of it. In fact, we got proof of it, double-documented, when 50 cell-phone periscopes went clicky-click: This crowd-surfer kid, flopping about like a flounder out of water onstage? He swivels toward Kim Gordon with obvious kissy-face intentions; Thurston Moore snaps up behind him—an instantaneous nature-channel reaction—and cranks him around to face the people, Fender Mustang guitar squished between them. He peels up the kid's shirt and rubs orbits around the kid's nipples. The kid plays along with a little Justin Timberlake self-tummy-massage, though he looks a tiny bit scared, and you would be, too, because Moore really is, like, 47, plus he's very tall and pretty famous, all of which is amplified by a factor of thousands when it's rubbing your baby-boy boobies and breathing on the back of your ear, and then Moore—after a moment longer than anyone thought he'd keep this up—tips him back over the monitors. And the song sounded exactly like it was supposed to sound the whole time. Sonic Youth is on glacial time; compared to dinosaurs, they've barely even got to be alive yet. And besides, people should lighten up: the fork in the road doesn't say, INNOVATE OR DIE; it just says, MILES DAVIS OR ROLLING STONES. It's easy to tell which way to go. (CZ)

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