Lick My Colin Powell!
The B-52's/The Sharp Ease
House of Blues, Anaheim
Friday, Sept. 27
The Sharp Ease opening up for the B-52's at the House of Blues is—as Fred Schneider might say—faaaaaaabulous, a sweet-as-hell spot for a worthy local band to sneak in and shake things up a little bit. It's a bit of a coup, you know? Like the Rolling Blackouts dating Drew Barrymore and Chle Sevigny! The Fuse! stealing the Hives' fancy equipment and pawning it to buy whiskey and jazz records! The Stitches getting a song on a PlayStation game—oh, wait, they actually did do that one. But you know what? Thanks to decidedly square scheduling policies—since when does a show slated to start at 9 p.m. actually start at 9? Don't you people have drinking and fucking around to do?—we missed all but one song, elbowing past cranky old ladies with Botox-taut cheeks ("Um, excuse me, I was standing there!") to catch the Sharp Ease' last song, "Rock 'n' Roll Detox." Oops. So while someone defrosted the B-52's backstage, we found a little swatch of floor between a bunch of fortysomething chicks with blinking red lights between their boobs (hey, if you get a boner when the ambulance drives by, have we got a look for you!) and battened down the hatches. This would be ugly. The B-52's will have limited hipster credibility as long as there are drunken house parties on the strength of their 1979 debut album, but this crowd had never seen a love shack in their lives. Yeah, it's hard to find a baby-sitter you can trust around the good silver and the locked-up cabinet of Chianti, so maybe you're a little rusty on the party vibe. But goddamn it, you're willing to try, and that's why we had trouble paying attention to "Private Idaho" (sounded good, if a little lukewarm) and "Mesopotamia" (Fred Schneider looks cranky when Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson get to sing for a long time): the crowd was getting frisky. Man, if you ever wanted to cop a little soccer-mom feel, let us know—we'll give you our ticket and wristband. "I love people!" barked one David Leisure-looking yuppie savant, arm snaked around his bottle-blonded lady—too weird! We bailed before the B-52's could really drop the big bombs, the prospect of a vaguely Oedipal get-down with the hosts of The View during a frenzied "Rock Lobster" being a little too much. And on the way out, a carful of guys pulled up to us in the parking lot. "Get a haircut!" they yelled, pausing for effect. "FAGS!" It made our night—seriously. (Chris Ziegler)
Photo by Matt Otto
The Sharp Ease/The Legendary B-Sides
The Prospector, Long Beach
Saturday, Sept. 28
Now this is how you schedule: the Sharp Ease went on at, like, 11 p.m. or something, after a set by the Legendary B-Sides that was unfortunately backgrounded due to excessive whiskey-and-coke consumption. Hey, not our fault: some Mormon guy kept buying! So here's to that special ceremonial underwear, buddy! Anyway, from what we heard of the B-Sides—between the tinkling ice cubes—they were, you know, punk with power chords and inappropriate white pants. We'll get them next time because we came for the Sharp Ease, figuring we owed them one for the night before—and also because they're a really good band, and if you don't believe us, you can wait six months for everyone else to figure it out; we always save plenty of room on our bandwagons! Anyway, what was their take on their B-52's escort mission? "I heard there were about 300 Republican conventioneers at the show, including Secretary of State Colin Powell," they told us. "Pretty damn surreal—I hope he liked 'Lick My Ass.'" So of course that was the first thing we asked when we caught singer Paloma: Did the Mouse House crowd like "Lick My Ass"? "Oh, yeah," she grinned. "They ate it up. They're sorepressed!" And then she was, like, swaggering around the room and crawling on tables or something typically brilliant. Sharp Ease are the kind of poppy band everyone can—indeed, fucking should, you scum—like: sappy but not soggy, catchy but not cutesy, noisy but not in a nasty way. And they give you a little bit of everything, counterbalancing Paloma's siren—the Greek kind and the air-raid kind—vox with curl-up-and-swoon background harmonies and perfectly big choruses. And also they have that song "Lick My Ass." Every time we hear it now, we'll think of Colin Powell. (CZ)
Ismael Garcia/Alfonso Maya
Green Parrot Caf, Santa Ana
Friday, Sept. 27
While guitar-strumming troubadours are a familiar sight in Mexican and Central American provinces, it's still an incredibly rare occasion to find two artists with this kind of passion and talent together onstage at the same time. And the last time the incredibly talented Alfonso Maya and Ismael Garcia shared the stage was to mark the 30th anniversary of the assasination of Ernesto "Che" Guevara in Morelos, Mexico. But this time, in this little caf in Santa Ana, Maya and Garcia politely took turns playing music from their recent CDs, Giros y Giros (Gyrations) and De Cartas, Soledades y Otras Sistemas de Amor (Letters, Loneliness and Other Systems of Love). Maya, a quick-fingered guitarist from Cuernavaca, likes to play cheerful-sounding tunes whose lyrics betray the sense of hope and frustration that must have come with years as a struggling artist. He started the show with "Dame La Luz Verde" ("Give Me a Green Light") and continued with several other uplifting, toe-tapping, even humorous pieces that provided a perfect counterpoint to his companion's more moody sound. For his part, Garcia, who grew up in a small fishing village in Veracruz, Mexico, and now lives in Phoenix, played almost every song from his ethereal, soul-searching CD—available for purchase at www.ismael-garcia.com, geeks—including the beautiful "A Sacrificio" ("To Sacrifice"). You should have been there: it felt like our collective souls had just sprouted wings and flown off to some romantic, colonial hideaway in San Cristobal de las Casas, even though we were just a short drive from the 5. (Nick Schou)
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