Dull Punk, Disco Balls, Dead Bodies
Gangland Cronies/Eight Count/The Centerfolds/ Off the Record
Wed., Dec. 29
Stay away from Chain Reaction for a month, and what happens? We miss all the excitement, like the moment during the Angry Samoans show a few weeks ago when the club's mirrored disco ball got knocked to the floor and all the punkers proceeded to make like Mia Hamm and boot it around the room. Now that's symbolic! Sure, it would've meant more 20 years ago, but still. . . .
And then there was the dead guy discovered outside near a trash bin during the Rx Bandits/ Jeffries Fan Club gig. Apparently, he was a transient who lived in some bushes next to the nearby 5 freeway and had a fatal heart attack several days earlier after slamming too much smack (don't do drugs, kids). Interestingly, word is that he was found in a "rockin' out" pose, his fist pumping the air, his leg kicked out as if he were mid-mosh. How pathetically, glamorously punk is that?
Speaking of punk stiffs—ba-dum-BUM!—can we declare a moratorium on all the kiddie punk bands who think they're doing something wildly original when they ain't? Most of 'em aren't even trying to plow any new creative ground, seemingly content with merely appeasing their mindless moshing minions. Oh, that may be fun for a spell, but it all ultimately adds up to a gaping, collective yawn. And as gaping yawns go, this four-bagger bill was a friggin' Grand Canyon of one.
Things began with Off the Record, who bleated what they called "Lakewood jock-rock." Whatever the moniker, it was deathly dull, clichd punk twaddle. Here, have a listen:
THUNKATHUNKATHUNKAscreee THUNKATHUNKATHUNKAscreee MUMbaMUMbaMUMba MUMbaWUMPHWUMPHscreeeeee!!!
Yeesh! A choir of sixth-graders performing armpit-fart arias would've been vastly preferable.
Same for Riverside's Centerfolds, who did the same thing with three guys as Off the Record did with five. Though they at least earned points for their economical approach, it was more of the same-old lame-old—lots of Buzzcocks, Green Day and Blink sound-alike riffs, basically. Tragically, they were some of the most unarousing Centerfolds we'd ever come across —they gave us no Woodrow at all, not even little Pixie Stick ones.
Most of the throng were here to witness Long Beach's Eight Count, who "enjoy humping sheep"—hey, they said it, those gosh-darn nutty kids! A genuinely intense pit broke out early during their standard punk-by-numbers set (complete with shoes getting tossed around—how, um, "old school"), but Eight Count, alas, were about as tiresome as a Y2K joke. We were so unmoved by their cantankerous caterwauling that we adjourned to a side tool room, where we marveled at all the inactive drills, block sanders, crowbars, hammers, saw blades and other instruments of destruction that we fantasized about using on the band.
When power tools provide more stimuli than whatever's happening onstage, it's time to cut out early—but we're masochists, so we stuck around. Oddly—or perhaps inevitably—their crowd started turning on them and began pelting the band with pocket change and gooey chunks of phlegm (um, that's really not an act of endearment anymore; c'mon, people! Come original!). Hope Eight Count scooped up all those coins, at least—it may be the biggest payday they'll ever see.
As for Gangland Cronies, just take everything we said about the first three bands and multiply it by the sales of the Backstreet Boys' Millennium CD. And throw in a standard snippy line, too, something like "leaders of the current wave of don't-give-up-your-day-job punk." Oh: their bassist, for some reason, wore a football helmet during their set, and while we tried to think up some snide metaphor to explain why this was, their music unfortunately put us to sleep too soon. Next time, we'll remember to bring along the No-Doze.
But while we slept, we had this really freaky dream, something about how these four bands were really the Four Horsebands of the Apocalypse and how on New Year's Eve (which was just 48 hours away at the time), they were gonna haul off and drag us into the depths of Hades with their pedestrian punk as the world exploded into a brilliant ball of fire.
No such luck—if you're reading this, that must mean it never happened. Too bad, for on this migraine-inducing eve, the idea of starting the world over again Pol Pot-style at Year Zero—as if punk, rock & roll and music itself had to be invented all over again—was a mightily appealing one.
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