What better way could one spend St. Patrick’s Day than in pursuit of a leprechaun? As it turns out, they are every bit as elusive as the stories tell. Hell, never mind a leprechaun, nowadays one could have a difficult enough time tracking down a shamrock shake. In lieu of the perennial, minty-flavored, partially gelatinated, non-dairy, gum-based beverage, and without the luck of finding one of those diminutive fairies, one could have deferred to seeing a punk show — featuring The Dwarves and The Queers — at Alex’s Bar, in Long Beach.
There wasn’t a whole lot of green on display at Alex’s Bar on this St. Patrick’s Day. Fashions that were in abundance included spiked studs on denim, leopard print clothes, leather skirts, flannel shirts, and, of course, tattooed skin. These fashions were being sported by 20 and 30-somethings that were less music fans than hardcore soldiers with skin tough enough to withstand the occasional flying elbow and limbs pliable enough to yield to the pressure of the swelling mob.
On the subject of contortion, Patrick Jones, the lead singer of openers The Mormons, kept the crowd’s attention by going full-retard with his antics. That’s not the only thing that the group is about (nor are their Mormon-inspired uniforms), but the band’s high energy powerhouse music is a great complement to Jones’s theatrics. One of the highlights occurred when Jones spasmed his way across the floor, into the bar’s photo booth, where he proceeded to take pictures of himself while singing. During the automated booth’s cycle, Jones was joined in the booth by several fans — including a girl who lifted her shirt for the camera.
The next band on the roster was the all-female group Bad Cop Bad Cop. As these lasses began their set, the club’s floor space (which had previously allowed Jones the freedom to flop about) became more densely populated by warm bodies with nodding heads. Bad Cop Bad Cop was clearly having a lot of fun as they smiled throughout much of their catchy set of tunes. Vocalist / guitarist Jennie Cotterill took a brief pause between a couple of songs to invite people to volunteer at this summer’s Rock 'n Roll Camp for Girls Orange County, an educational enterprise geared towards empowering girls through music.
It was about 10:20 p.m. when The Queers hit the stage and the pit got serious. Woe unto this reporter / photographer who braved the front of the crowd to get some pics, as elbows from the moshers flew indiscriminately into various shoulder blades and fleshy areas. The band played furiously throughout their half-hour set — rarely stopping between songs. Highlights of their highly energetic but difficult to understand songs [thanks to a lousy mic] included: “This Place Sucks,” “Kicked Out of the Webelos,” and “Night of the Living Queers.”
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For The Dwarves’ show, any remaining traces of decorum in the audience quickly disappeared. Lead singer Blag Dahlia lept into the audience during the first or second song, and immediately following this, various audience members crowd-surfed on waves which broke at the front of the stage, sometimes landing the surfer on stage and sometimes landing him on the head of a short punk rock girl. For the entire set, the whole room became a swaying blob-like formation which periodically expanded to the point that the back exit door was forced open (which allowed a refreshing breath of cool air but which an employee of Alex’s Bar routinely fought his way to and pulled closed). In addition to the sensation of being randomly pelted by flying ice cubes, memorable moments of The Dwarves’ one hour set included performances of “Let’s Fuck,” “Dominator,” and “Sluts of the USA.”
Though it wasn’t a particularly Irish-themed concert, there was plenty of booze and good-spirited violence at Alex’s Bar on this St. Patrick’s Day — that and, of course, great music and a few bruises to remember the occasion.