Diary of a Loud County

The Year In Live Reviews

VAN HALEN

ARROWHEAD POND, ANAHEIM

MONDAY, AUG. 16

We watched as Eddie Van Halen sucked on several cigarettes, even though he had part of his tongue removed because of cancer. And we saw Sammy Hagar, Mike Anthony 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. (RK)

WIVES GLASS HOUSE, POMONA

SATURDAY, AUG. 21

They had Minutemen instrumentation, hard-wired through battle-damaged Black Flag guitar squall, and when Dean Spunt started singing (Please don't just scream, please don't just scream, I thought), they had Minutemen cadence, too—that panicked, determined bark that most bands dodge because it doesn't give a voice anything to hide behind. But they didn't have Minutemen subtlety; they pulled everything in the room toward them—they were the reverse of a bomb, momentum whipped up by turning their own nervousness inside-out on itself until it hit chain reaction. And they had a jazzy looseness that turned their music into topological maps; they'd tease a song from furious hardcore into bare, barbed strips of guitar, into fogbanks of noise, into a playful tattoo on the toms, even once (after signals to one another) into each member of the band unfocusing his eyes and stage-screaming, "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!" One stout little girl next to me was flipping out, clawing at the air in time with Jeremy's cymbals like she was gonna catch a chunk in her fist. And every time I'd look over, she'd be farther into the crowd, closer to the stage, teeth locked together like a wrestler. When she was too far away to see, more girls moved up behind me and started talking. "You know what this reminds me of?" asked one, stretching her vowels like they do in all the corridor cities. "Pit's old band—Ripping Shit?" ". . . a NOISE band?" her friend asked, grossed-out. "Well, I like that," she said back, more quietly. (CZ)

MATMOS

WINIFRED SMITH HALL, CLAIRE TREVOR SCHOOL OF THE ARTS, UC IRVINE SECT SEMINAR, IRVINE

SATURDAY, Aug. 21

It was the final performance that best captured Matmos' sense of Dada-like play. The room was almost dark for this strictly video piece that started with the looped sound of an ass slap. The image was then broken into four quadrants, each looping the ass slap. A beat emerged. And after a few minutes of beats and breaks, the image went to black and M.C. Schmitt dropped trou and bent over Drew Daniel's lap, and Daniel started slapping his partner's butt cheeks while Schmitt clapped against the floor. The video started up again with a new slaphappy beat and the stage exploded into a sort of ass-slapping drum circle. Yes, it's official: this is art! (Maxwell Yim)

IKE TURNER

BLUE CAFE, LONG BEACH

SATURDAY, AUG. 21

The backing band looked like a bunch of dentists (except for the seasoned guys on trumpet and piano), and the new Tina—c'mon, you know everyone was thinking it!—was spitting out more tacky brass than the whole horn section. Ike doesn't need that stuff. The show should really have just been Ike and his guitar, soloing in front of his Mercedes (vanity plate: IKE TURN) with occasional breaks to tune and glare at people. But he still hacked at that whammy bar until his guitar started tuning in satellite signals, cutting between the gimme songs such as "Proud Mary" (barf; save it for Radio Disney) with lightning bolts such as Lonnie Mack's '65 instrumental "Chicken Pickin'." People were loving it so unconditionally that some guy had to keep tactfully pulling some woman's woozy head back from his Dockers-safed crotch, and when the bass player would go, "Hey, do you guys like . . .THE BLUES?" they'd all tear out the kind of screams you save for a last-second field goal. (CZ)

THE SWEET AND TENDER HOOLIGANS

GALAXY CONCERT THEATRE, SANTA ANA

SATURDAY, AUG. 28

The show was ultimately unsatisfying, and it was the crowd's fault. While some fans engaged in the stage-rushing and gladiola-launching tactics that typically transform Hooligans shows from mere songfest into new wave theater, many just stood around and preened. Men sported pompadours that could poke out eyeballs; their shapely, tattooed ladies looked like extras from an all-Latino version of American Graffiti. Few danced, few sweated, not even for the torch-ender "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out." Such apathy, then, begs the question: Why even show up? Moz graced this planet to make us cry and croon and look pretty, sure, but he also wants us to dance. And when one of the few people flaying around is this charming reporter, something is terribly amiss—not with the Hooligans, but with the world. (GA)

TEGAN AND SARA

FINGERPRINTS RECORD STORE, LONG BEACH

TUESDAY, SEPT. 21

Aw, youth: it was all girl smiles, girl giggles, girl gushes and girl crushes as Fingerprints quickly filled up with every asymmetrically hair-styled 17-year-old former Ani DiFranco fan from Long Beach to Lakewood. By the time Tegan and Sara—Canada's dynamic, New Pornographers-produced, twin-sister duo—got their guitars settled on their laps, it felt like an in-store sleepover. "I got Sara's phone number!" boasted one girl before the show, doing a little jig as she waved a Canadian Air luggage tag. "I think it's, like, Canadian or something." As for the songs themselves, tracks such as "Walking With a Ghost" and "I Know I Know I Know" translated well acoustically—and the already quiet "Where Does the Good Go" fared even better—but we sensed what the twins really wanted to do was rock. Still, for the girls (and three boys) in the audience, it didn't really seem to matter much—they still lined up after the show, one by one giddily asking for autographs and, if they were feeling brave, pictures. Before we left, we spotted a different girl holding the tag in one hand and feverishly punching the digits into her phone with the other. Aw, youth. (Ellen Griley)

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