By Alex Distefano
By Daniel Kohn
By Aimee Murillo
By Nick Schou
By Nate Jackson
By Nate Jackson
By Dave Lieberman
By Daniel Kohn
Rock & roll is full of tattooed scumbags, losers, degenerates, weirdoes and filth. These people smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol and live the kind of lives that cannot be mentioned around decent members of society. After years of sifting through the excessive garbage spewed by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, the Doors and the Ramones, an alternative has emerged. Finally, for those who enjoy high-class rock, there is a ray of hope coming from four fine lads whose spectacular taste in musical overture is overshadowed only by their immaculate nobility.
The group, a tribute to 18th-century aristocracy, is called the Upper Crust. They hail from Boston and perform a genre they describe as "rocque & roll," which lead singer/guitarist Lord Bendover describes as "the exuberant flowering of an exotic plant in a harsh, inhospitable environment—by which, of course, I mean the listener's brain. In this way, rocque resembles certain desert plants covered with sharp spines that seem hard and menacing but are really all squishy inside. It provides a savage thrill, but upon closer listening, it reveals a world of exquisite sensibility."
The Upper Crust formed in 1994 as a one-off project that couldn't be tamed. Although the band—Bendover, bassist Count Bassie, guitarist the Duc D'istortion and drummer Jackie Kickassis—are known for an eerie similarity to Bon Scott-era AC/DC, the well-versed musicians' tenures at pristine boarding schools shine through with hints of garage rock and soul. They've released three albums, but those Dapper Dans looking for the absolute best of the best should pick up the greatest-hits collection Cream of the Crust, which features "Rock & Roll Butler," "We're Finished With Finishing School" and "Little Rickshaw Boy."
Other accolades bestowed on these makeup-clad wig-wearers include a song featured in the video game Guitar Hero, a spot on Late Night With Conan O'Brien and an opening slot for Aerosmith. These might sound like great opportunities for lesser acts, but Bendover says they were nearly an insult for him. "Sometimes," he says, "these kinds of sacrifices are necessary in the course of a life dedicated to the arts."
Fear not, audience members and fortunate sons who are allowed to share a bill with the Upper Crust. Bendover admits many are in awe of his band, but he does his best to give opening acts the credit they deserve by allowing them "permission to speak in our presence and even to sit down." This generosity doesn't come easy for Bendover and company, who have tried to "retain a certain attitude of strained formality with the common people."
Those interested in seeing such fine gentlemen perform with ease and grace should make sure their chauffeurs are available Friday because the Upper Crust are boarding a jet to Southern California for two shows only. The band have no interest in slumming it in dingy tour vans for any extended period of time, and they perform outside of the East Coast in limited capacity. Initially, their trip was scheduled for Los Angeles only, but the esteemed musicians decided to shed some class on Orange County for a few reasons, Bendover says.
"Southern California is a beautiful place filled with beautiful people, in stark contrast to the East Coast, which is cold and horrible and filled with repugnant caricatures of humanity. That is why we make our home on the East Coast because our art derives largely from a sense of mild disgust at our surroundings. Anaheim is home to both the Angels and, more important, Disneyland. There are those among us who are enthusiastic followers of the sport of baseball, and what heart does not thrill to the exploits of Mickey Mouse? Plus, we are soon to be inducted into the Disneyland hall of animatronic figures and thought it would be good to meet our predecessors and study the naturalness of their movements. We consider ourselves obliged to make sporadic public appearances for our loyal fans and wish we could reach more of them without having to make an unseemly effort."
The Upper Crust will deign to perform with the Randies, D-Strutters and Disguster at the Juke Joint, 735 N. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 778-1397; www.myspace.com/thejukejoint. Fri., 8 p.m. $12. 21+.