Diary of a Loud County

The Year In Live Reviews

DRAG THE RIVER

GYPSY LOUNGE, LAKE FOREST

SATURDAY, OCT. 2

With the country harmonies, showboat rock drumming and bassist JJ Nobody's stomps punctuating the breaks, Drag the River blazed right through genre conventions. The band seeded the set with slower songs to rein in the cowboy hats in the crowd, and Price often sang with his eyes closed—maybe to concentrate, maybe out of shyness, but either way not just a pose. It verified what we've always suspected: country music is white soul. As Price sang, "She brings me happiness in a bottle/makes life easier to swallow"—in the darkness, we wanted to believe. The traffic laws screamed, "DON'T DRINK!" but Drag the River cried, "YOU MUST!" (Rex Reason)

THE DWARVES

FITZGERALD'S IRISH PUB, HUNTINGTON BEACH

FRIDAY, OCT. 8

It's certainly no secret the Dwarves' years of real and exaggerated nihilistic antics—playing naked, attacking the audience, playing one or two songs and trashing the stage and ending the show—have become almost an albatross around their necks, though that was fine and even fun when everything was ultra-fast (but always insidiously, insanely catchy) punk. But now that the band has spent the past several albums (and years) stretching into electronica, pure pop and hip-hop, cultivating such a cretinous fan base may be catching up with them—though a game of Spot the Awful Tattoos played great backup entertainment all night, and watching some blob with a Mohawk talk on his cell phone makes a nice bonus. When the band jumped into "Dominator," the floor erupted—pure, stupid, kinetic, misanthropic hatred flowing offstage. The audience slurped it up. Singer Blag Dahlia swaggered back and forth, gesturing for the faithful to let him hear it: "Yeah! Yeah! Rock legends. Big dicks swinging across Orange County!" (RR)

THE F-UPS

SANTA FE CAFÉ, FULLERTON

SATURDAY, OCT. 30

Yeah, that's what they call themselves--self-censorship is lame--but you can't get a write-up in Teen People if "fuck" is in your band's name, y'know. But then they started playing, and well, they weren't half bad, shooting off what sounded like a batch of great, obnoxious, drunken Irish-bar anthems—not nearly as grand as, say, the Dropkick Murphys, but maybe in a few years. Their other tunes were mostly punk-by-rote, though, yet the kids did pull off an "All the Young Dudes" cover, a song they really had no business touching. Still, it went down sweet and zippy—too bad there wasn't a single other person in the crowd of maybe 30 who knew it was a cover besides us and the band, which made us feel old and cranky. And that was totally F-ed-up. (RK)

TED LEO AND THE PHARMACISTS

CHAIN REACTION, ANAHEIM

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 3

When Leo finally wiggled out from his guitar after a good 50-minute set—it looked like moonlight coming through the stage door to turn him blue, but it was just an office fluorescent—he said, "Keep the pressure on. It's not over. It's never over." Which seemed so sad when the real lights came up and the floor looked so dirty. But not three minutes later, he pokes back in: "Oh, ye of little faith," he says, sliding into a grin, his palm reaching over the soft polish of the guitar, clapping the drummer on the back, asking the sound guy for two more songs with a cheerful authority that meant he'd get them. "Ballad of the Sin Eater" was just bass and drums till the last few curves, the guitar heeled onstage, Leo's skinny arms flapping great crazy shapes around his head; it hit a velocity—and ferocity—the rest of the set didn't quite get; it found a lyric that sounded like it was just born: "You didn't think they could hate you now, did you? But they hate you—they hate you 'cause you're guilty!" And then he went into one you could tell wasn't one of his; the chords were fast and simple, fluid and thick; Leo suddenly loose, bent in half, with the guitar cocked into a gunslinger's right angle on his thigh, bright in the relief from the lights. Shoulda known: "Don't believe it! Don't believe it! Don't be bitten twice! You gotta s-s-s-s-s-s-suspect device!" Lots of people knew it, and it felt good—felt like one of ours. (CZ)

LOU REED

ALL TOMORROW'S PARTIES

QUEEN MARY, LONG BEACH

SATURDAY, NOV. 6

Guitar Center plays the Velvet Underground songbook. Blah. Hate to harp on equipment, but: Five-string fretless bass? Do you think, like, "Satellite of Love" has been festering in Reed's heart for a generation, keeping him from ever truly sleeping through the night because he knows that without the tinny Seinfeld-ian tones of a five-string fretless bass, it wouldn't ever live up to the perfect vision he's kept inside for so many years? The kids who weren't leaving early were the kids without enough sense or self-confidence to push through a crowd. Reed looked pretty cheerful; we went and saw an Elvis impersonator instead. (CZ)

THE FLAMING LIPS

ALL TOMORROW'S PARTIES

QUEEN MARY, LONG BEACH

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