One Last Long Night

11 years of the Starvations

It was obviously (though probably not deliberately) their "Los Angeles" when it made a meek debut on a CDEP, but it grew past just that one night to hold a whole summer, and now that they're finished, to hold almost everything the band ever did—musically, they could be sharper ("American Funeral") or a lot more fun ("Grief"), but I don't think there was ever another three minutes that included everything they needed to do: the structure of "The Passenger" and a lot of its mood too, and doesn't Gabe sound like Iggy for a second at the beginning? And then the story of one of those nights where slates do get wiped clean (for the drama queens and all the dead James Deans), with saloon piano (which Vanessa Gonzales would later permanently add to the lineup) in ribbons between a curtain of chords and a punishing push/pull dynamic, an almost tidal rhythm, like waves on a beach or blood past your ears, and then Gabe at the back of his throat on the verses ("Tell the boss something tragic happened to you late last night!") and then falling in loud for every chorus: "This life is one long night!" It's the kind of song that just falls back into itself as easy as breathing—"This is a swan song, this is a requiem," over and on, repetition and cycle but each verse a special nod to an insomniac and drama queen and poltergeist and dead James Dean. There are bands that can do the party-all-nite excitement and bands that can do the morning-after melancholy, but they meet only with the crudest substitute for grace. Here and almost always the Starvations did both and more: "This life is one long night," finishes Gabe, "so eat shit, babe!" I couldn't think of a better ending—when the sun finally comes up, they're done.

STARVATIONS WITH THE STITCHES, GEISHA GIRLS, BROKEN BOTTLES AND SCHEMERS AT THE GALAXY CONCERT THEATRE, 3503 S. HARBOR BLVD., SANTA ANA, (714) 957-0600. THURS., DEC. 15, 8 P.M. $12.50. ALL AGES.

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