Kick Some Emo Ass!
Those Peabodys/Cheswick/Racecar Backwards Koo's Art Caf
Sunday, June 10
So it's been a beat-down, curb-job, license-and-registration-please, full-body-cavity-search kind of week: the late nights, the early mornings, and the fitful in-betweens backed up against a bottle of NyQuil have left us weathered and weak. We needed sleep, or the musical equivalent thereof: emo. We needed short-haired boys singing obtusely rendered metaphors about summertime suburban alienation. We needed tinkle-tinkle-plop melodies over melancholy bass lines. We needed music to sip something to, and we're just too damn expired to deal with bouncers or barflies or runny puddles of puke. (That was the rest of the weekend, thank you, and we're still soaping up our shoes.) And so we planted a lazy one on the ratty couch at Koo's and let some pop kids drop their politely quiet bombs.
It was an appropriately slow night, one of those shows when it seems everyone in the crowd is either in a band waiting to play or dating someone onstage, but it makes for a sympathetic atmosphere, if nothing else. Racecar Backwards started strong, undaunted by that lonely looking room, and we horked down fat gobs of nostalgia. Remember that summer when every band in America sounded like this, except for maybe the Jesus Lizard or something? And you'd sleep late and stay out all night, driving around listening to Sunny Day Real Estate or Jawbreaker or Jimmy Eat World on the CD player in your mom's Honda, hitting Del Taco drive-throughs and going to parties at houses with nice carpeting? And you'd get all angsty because girls with expensive, bleached-blond or black hair and boys with very unneccesary wristbands weren't reciprocating your crush? Thank God we were never like that, but we saw it all the damn time. And that's what Racecar Backwards made us think of.
Of course, by the time we'd staggered back to reality, they were done playing and Cheswick was on. Cheswick was Racecar Backwards a few shows down the line, except that their singer could sing (sorry, Racecar, but sometimes your two-part, look-Ma-I'm-a-backup-singer! harmonies hurt more than they help), and their music was so powerfully moving and intricate that people actually had to sit down on the floor. We peeked inside once to see if the band was tuning in unison or just playing something really understated and sensitive, and it was like Sunday school or something, all these clean-cut, rosy-cheeked kids with their hands in their laps and approving parents nodding genially from the back. It was so Norman Rockwell we had to go outside and watch the graffiti kids paint a wall just to inhale something toxic. And it was very refreshing.
So we limped back in, about ready to curl up for naptime, as Those Peabodys set up. And we should have known something big was gonna happen. They're from Texas—that's the first clue because all Texans are born to rock, except for the unfortunate mutants who seek refuge in politics. And they know the kids who let us puke on their lawn at South by Southwest. And they all had huge hair and huger amps, so really, all the signs were there. Those Peabodys were about to kick some emo ass. Orange County, don't mess with Texas.
The crowd sensed trouble, scattering like penguins who've just spotted a killer whale. We didn't care. By song No. 2, Those Peabodys were cranking out fucking cock-rock anthems. It was insane. They were nothing but riffs and rhythm and hot, hot moves. If we'd been wearing panties, they would have been out of our shorts and on their heads in seconds flat. They ruled that much. It was like those old Twisted Sister videos, you know, where the power of rock blows boring adults out the living-room windows and transforms meek schoolkids into face-painted, tongue-waggling guitar demons. Texas was fucking us—as Texas is wont to do.
"I'm sure glad y'all ain't sittin' down," drawled their singer (we've emphasized his accent to improve the moment). "Not that there's anything wrong with sittin' down—I, myself, was sittin' down earlier today."
"But you know what they say about people who sit down at shows," warned the guitarist, who, if we had to fictionalize this band for sitcom purposes, would be the quiet mysterious one, as opposed to the other guy, who had the purposeful stare of a party fuckin' animal. "They're not as cool as people who rock."
And at that moment, it seemed so fucking true. Outside, emo kids stared wearily through the windows. We paid no attention. Sleep is for the weak.
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