I've witnessed music make a grown man cry—specifically, every time my father hears "Let There Be Peace on Earth"—and I've caught many an indie dude blush at the sight of a particularly adorable female singer—namely, Jenny Lewis and Chan Marshall. But I've never seen music make a grown man—much less a room full of them—squirm quite like I did during a Smoosh show early last year. To my right stood Russ, who, for all his requisite head nodding and toe tapping, kept his eyes trained on the ground. Meanwhile, Max, to my left, would not quit fidgeting with the straw and ice in his glass. And they weren't alone: nearly every man in the room appeared at least slightly uncomfortable despite—or was it because of?—the hooky pop tunes being played onstage. Finally, with an elbow jab and a whisper, Max let me in on what was up: "Um, so, if I really dig this . . . does that make me a pedophile?"
Riiiiiight: chicks who play rock & roll are, by the natural order of things, totally hot. So what does it mean when the combined age of the chicks onstage is still a few years shy of your own? And, by extension, how are you supposed to feel, knowing that these pretweens can totally kick your ass on the drums and keyboards?
Duh! It means you're old. So it's understandable if you feel, well, kinda icky.
Now get over it.
Because one of the best things about Smoosh—keyboardist/singer Asya, 14, and sister/drummer/singer Chloe, 12—is watching—yes, fellas, watching—them perform live. Their songs are an equal mix of playground chants and mature, developed songwriting: one minute, you'll get Asya rapping, "With a knick-knack patty-whack talkin' to you" on "Bottlenose"; the next, you'll be humming along to the earworm melodies on tracks such as "Clap On" and "Gold," both off the forthcoming album Free to Stay. It's certainly not music that will change your life or even really floor you—turns out there are diminishing returns when it comes to songs comprising whiny vocals and fairly redundant chords—but a Smoosh show is nonetheless an experience worth subjecting your male friends to. Besides, judging by the songs on Free, the girls are about a half-decade shy of collaborating with Jon Brion and touring with Aimee Mann. And where's the fun in that?
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SMOOSH OPEN FOR EELS AT THE GALAXY CONCERT THEATRE, 3503 S. HARBOR BLVD., SANTA ANA, (714) 957-0600. SUN., 8 P.M. $20. CALL FOR AGE RESTRICTIONS.