Live Review

Big Nothing: Big Japan, Big City Rock at the Galaxy Theatre, Santa Ana, Sunday, June 4

It might seem a simple jump to make the connection between some sorta-kinda-celebrities-turned-rock-stars—Steven Seagal or Gary Sinise or Shane West, take your pick—and a dude like Adam Brody, who's famous for playing Seth Cohen on TV and not-so-famous for his real-life gig as the drummer in LA-based foursome Big Japan. But barring the so-sad amount of cell-phone cameras trained on him, this wasn't the Seth Cohen show, and Big Japan certainly isn't the Adam Brody Four—unlike Seagal and Sinise, Brody is not a singer nor is he a "featuring so-and-so" marquee man like West. Instead, he's just a scrawny guy with a fair amount of rhythm who makes do in an indie-rock-lite band. And it's all so perfectly innocuous and inoffensive that there's really nothing more to it: Sunday's set was heavy on elementary harmonica and keyboard hooks ("Wrong Way" and "The Rise and Fall of Bill"), as well as on local audience-love for new bassist (and brother of Dusty Rhodes violin gal Andrea) Brad Babinski, but too lean in terms of keeping me awake. It didn't help that openers Big City Rock's attempt at fusing every single song ever recorded in the '80s—think Echo & the Bunnymen covering Bon Jovi, or U2 covering Taylor Dayne, with all the requisite cock-out swagger and fist-pumping bravado, then slit your wrists—was as utterly stab-me-in-the-eye depressing as it was hilariously entertaining. Perhaps now that the future of The O.C. lies in doubt, Big Japan will have more time to develop as songwriters and musicians—they'd be perfect as the standard opening-opening-band at KCRW gigs. Or if that doesn't work out, they could always follow Big City's lead and just plain blow—either way, at the end of the night, I'd at least have something to say about them.

 
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