By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
THURSDAY, MAY 11
The OC High School of the Arts presents its funk/fusion/jazzshowcase, part of a grade-A tradition of funky classroom calisthenics. DJ Shadow's Schoolhouse Funk comps put a cute name to a long discography, but with-it high school band teachers from Cincinnati to West Texas figured out early on that J.P. Sousa's tenure as Minister of the Super Heavy Funk was about to expire—"James Brown forever, 'Stars and Stripes' never!", as the cheerleaders used to chant. Now marching bands aspire to Grammys guest spots when they used to just be happy to put a little fusion on the football field at halftime, but kids learning to cover "Scorpio" is still better than kids learning to cover "Zing Went the Strings of My Heart." At the Coach House.
PLUS: Mark E. Smith hit me and it felt like a kiss; the Fall at the Glass House.
Gabriel Hart and His Upset Black Guitar, ex-Starvations and current Fortune's Flesh (death doo-wop band) singer solos here with a wrote-upon acoustic that says THIS MACHINE KILLS FASHIONISTAS. Detached from the electrified rock & roll, solo Gabe is Tav Falco by way of Skip Spence, Skip Spence being the unsung Lizzie Borden of troubled-loner blues—Skip took an axe to his band mates and Falco just took an axe to his own hairdo, and that's why Skip's record got such poor distribution (Devendra Banhart wants to reissue it, though). Support from Johnny Witmer, the Stitches guitar player, appearing here also in rare acoustic form, performing a set that no man can yet predict. With the Flying Saucers (what up!) and the Digits at King Neptune's in Sunset Beach.
AND: Prog monster Robert Fripp packs up the 'tronics for a collaboration with Peter Buck (REM) and others called Slow Music at the Coach House; the bleach boys in Nine Black Alps find nirvana at the Glass House; Warrant likes cherry pie but would probably settle for a scoop of hash browns on a nice clean plate at the Blue Cafť.
Weenies sizzle in the sun at the KROQ Stadium Internment Camp and Weenie Roast, this year enlivened a bit by Wolfmother, who come from Australia to make a dedicated go at the hallowed genre of shit-rock (which is: Sabbath + weed + Detroit + death before your time). They got the spirit pretty good on songs like "Dimension" and "Woman" (a word that in shit-rock must always be followed by: "You are the master heartache!"), but it's still kind of a shallow reading of the storied shit-rock history. You get the feeling Blue Cheer blew these guys' minds so hard they quit looking for anything else; that plus some Jimi and some Sabbath is pretty cool for 1971, but it's 35 years later, and if you plan to step into the shit-rock Thunderdome—for Australians, the Thunderdome is as sacred a cultural touchstone as the Vietnam War memorial is for us—you better be ready to guzzle Bedemon and piss Dust, else you are just a dad-rock band with a frat-boy crowd. Still, this is going to come off as heavy as "I'm Mad Like Eldridge Cleaver" at the Weenie Roast. If you lug around this kind of frothin'-at-the-mouth-pissed sound on relentless repeat in your head every waking moment—so loud and constant that you can't even make out the words any given cop or female might be saying to you on any certain night—then Wolfmother to you is gonna come off as nothing but a hopeful low hum. But if you are still a happy young KROQ kid, this will probably eat the plaque right off your teeth. At Verizon with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and 100 haircut bands like Panic! At The Disco, She Wants Revenge, Angels & Airwaves, etc. Plus Matisyahu, who isn't good but who sure is easy to write about!
PLUS: Also mad like Eldridge Cleaver (or like Robert F. Williams) is dead prez, rapping about Panthers taking a stand with an M-1 Garand. Last record actually had guest spots by Jay-Z and revved-up major-label production, but the title (Revolutionary But Gangsta) and songs like "Hell Yeah" (seductively detailed instructions on running credit-card scams) and "I Have a Dream, Too" (POW/MIA list of COINTELPRO casualties like Eddie Conway and Sundiata Okole) directly demonstrate that they're still into conducting the same kind of conversation. Radio free at the Vault with Ras Kass.
AND: Ikey Owens presents the first of many Mama's Gun Clubs with his Free Moral Agents, Ray Barbee, Coaxial and Create(!) at Open in Long Beach.
Bif Naked has some improbable personal history—raised by wolves and traded to American missionaries for a tattoo gun and a copy of the Runaways live record; amazingly, Kim Fowley is not involved with promoting her—and an improbable sound to go with it, inasmuch as Kelly Clarkson will probably never get the chance to cut tracks with Insane Clown Posse. But what if . . . at Chain Reaction.
PLUS: Mama's guns for one last round and the live debut of Look Daggers (Ikey Owens and 2MEX doing crossover Can-style) at Open.
My I-don't-have-to-type day.
Little-but-not-for-long Cold War Kids appear between tours with cowbabies Two Gallants and cardigan-jockeys Tapes 'n' Tapes for a show at the Galaxy that will be probably be the last chance for new people to see them before they are lifted out of their day-job lives and up to indie rock heaven. New songs are the best they've done yet, undoing years of boring vacuum-sealed OC tightness—hardcore and pop-punk and No Doubt all had every breath of air flattened out of them in the studio. Instead, someone used a very precise producer's ear here, finding equal space for the calculated post-punk minimalism that made Joy Division throw out almost all the drum rolls and the cultivated idiosyncrasy that made Dylan and Loudon and Neil Young all sing like screechy freaks, though in a new and beautiful sort of way, of course. Cold War Kids are being very careful to put their own sound together—all the demos in sequence is like a telescope locking into focus—and that's gonna take them pretty far, I think.
Since this is the week of wild men and their mild guitars, let's ply you with this little playlist: Kevin Ayers, the ex-Soft Machine singer who so mastered a certain depleted kind of psychedelia that Syd Barrett—soon to be completely depleted by psychedelia himself—helped him sing a nice little song called "Religious Experience," though here we will suggest instead the more melancholy "All This Crazy Gift of Time." Or Meic Stevens, the Welsh Bob Dylan who mostly sang in Welsh, dearly endearing him to such as the Super Furry Animals, whose "Love Owed" adopts instead an Appalachian lilt and ends every verse with a sad little curlicue of a lyric ("For you, you are my only one . . .") and a hangdog harmonica honk. Or the ferociously cracked Trevor McNamara, an Australian maverick who played every instrument on his Yeah Captain LP and then paid to press it up himself. The facility with which one incorrigible colonial could dip so effectively into every worthy micro-genre of psych proves forever the value of criminal genetics. And then almost-super-famous Steve Peregine Took, who got Pete Best-ed when Marc Bolan abbreviated their old duo into T. Rex, and who recovered with obvious amounts of drugs and the possible covert help of his buddy Syd Barrett and recorded "Beautiful Deceiver" about 1971 with beautiful acoustic help from various Motörhead personnel. What a nice present you just got.
THURSDAY, MAY 18
The Epoxies were drama geeks who heard the Dickies and Devo and that was it; they've never worn anything but stripes and Day-Glo since. Pop-punk with a radio heart at the Galaxy.
See Calendar listings for club locations. Also: be smart; call ahead.