Los Angeles' Streetwalkin' Cheetahs have put their rock & roll mission into words: "To revive everything you used to know about rock & roll—to rebuild it into a loud and proud, twisted, demonic rock & roll machine."
Fittingly, singer/guitarist Frank Meyer barfed all over the stage the last time they played Costa Mesa's Club Mesa. What's more, Meyer claims it wasn't meant to be some kind of stinky rock hijink, but was instead simply poor planning: drinking on an empty stomach and then eating a bunch of popcorn in a botched attempt to soak up the alcohol. "I ate too much popcorn and drank too much and threw up white foamy goo all over the stage during the last song. It wasn't pretty. Craig, who runs the joint, is a really righteous brother to have invited us back after that," says Meyer in an e-mail exchange.
The Streetwalkin' Cheetahs play tight, grinding, Detroit-influenced, adrenaline-infused rock, the kind you've surely heard before but never in a form quite so delightfully orgiastic. It's the riveting live show, though, that best displays their giddy talents. There's something wholly satisfying about a Cheetahs show—you walk away feeling exhilarated without feeling like you just consumed mass quantities of empty cheesy bullshit rock. Sans theatrics, pyrotechnics or even craaaaaaazy outfits, the Cheetahs put on a spectacle using the most basic rock ingredients: guitars and energy.
The four-piece band—rounded out by bassist Dino Everett, guitar player Art Jackson and drummer Mike Sessa—formed in 1995 as something akin to a side project; just for fun and just obscure covers by bands like MC5, the Stooges, Dead Boys, Runaways and Johnny Thunders, among others. Upon being offered a small record deal by Bomp! (Records), they decided it was time to slap together some of their own music, resulting in 1996's Heart Full of Napalm, 1997's Overdrive, a handful of singles (including a split single with the BellRays) and, most recently, Live on KXLU, which is exactly what it says and was released on Triple X Records.
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For a relatively small band, the Cheetahs have managed to score big. Rolling Stone critic David Fricke is a fan and has written repeatedly about them. Legs McNeil, who founded Punk magazine and was an editor at Spin, wrote the gushing liner notes to Live on KXLU. ("If you're some stupid girl who really doesn't know shit about rock & roll but has a crush on that cute mumbling guy who works behind the counter at Starbucks, just slip him this CD, and I promise ya, he'll call you by the weekend," McNeil proclaims in a most troubling paragraph. Um, uh, yeah, but anyway . . .)
MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, with whom the Cheetahs toured, produced two tracks on the live album. The Cheetahs backed up Kramer on the same tour, meaning they'd play a show as themselves and then come back out playing behind Kramer.
Which is righteous and all, but not as righteous as "returning" Club Mesa's popcorn favor.
The Streetwalkin' Cheetahs perform with the BellRays and Midnite Rapture at Club Mesa, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949)642-6634. Fri., 9 p.m. $7. 21+.