Photo by James BunoanSTICKY CHILDREN, FM BATS
Que Sera, Long Beach
Sunday, Jan. 30
The inevitable part of the Warhol-style Exploding Plastic Whatever must be how tough it is to break out of the exploding plastic routine. Revolution—or Evolution, depending on which organizers thought sounded better when you asked them—was planned as a happening in the grand Andy-ian tradition: bands, DJs, artists and films all brought together, plus a raffle and potluck. But with the immense American flag covering the back of the stage, the potluck table, the film projector running on a screen cleaving the stage in half and the weak lights reflecting off a disco ball in Que Sera's ever-present murk, it felt like an art-high-school prom. To complete the effect: a tie-sporting guy looking more like a history teacher than the Spanish porn star he is—shit you not—standing onstage, indistinctly going on about a variety of pamphlets he'd made and the wolfman porn he starred in.
This was the backdrop against which Sticky Children tuned up. Five minutes in, it wasn't entirely clear if they were actually playing. Loping free-jazz drumming, rumbling bass, random guitar clangery and isolated notes—was this just a really intense warm-up or the actual set? The ambience finally stopped when the bass and drums changed hands, a conceit that would hold up for the rest of Sticky Children's set. Sticky Children Part 2 hit the ground with far more linear music—a sort of lounge/indie sound—that still didn't seem quite in tune. And then there was the rough indie/punk folk/blues workout. A few spirited, arm-flailing dancers in the crowd added to the "be-in" feeling, but even they had to give up once the groove got too loose.
FM Bats went next with a tom-drum-heavy rhythm section underneath Hot Rod Todd's signature one-note singing. The band (with Brett Cutts on guitar for the first time) sounded significantly tighter than the house party set in west Long Beach from a few months back; Todd's white-punk James Brown shake 'n' slide had more room to operate for one thing.
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But between bands, the sloppy-drunk groping couples and clusters of people having the same old bar conversations showed how hard it is to break the bar-show mentality, even when that's the whole point of the night. Evolution has lots of potential. Hopefully, we're ready for it.