THE DILIGENTS/KEVIN DARISH/GOOD CHILD
FRIDAY, JAN. 11
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Now that some persnickety Santa Ana city officials have successfully halted operations at Koo's Art Cafe—at least for the moment—the Hub in Fullerton is OC's oldest continually running showcase for live local music. And how long has the Hub been around? A not exactly whopping . . . eight years! Jeez, we've bought older beer. So it was with this awesome sense of history—one that stretches waaay back to the first Clinton administration—that we armed ourselves on this visit to the Hub. But we also were reminded that during the course of those eight years, we had seen an awful lot of good shows at this ultracozy, all-ages hang, one that fabulously has never catered to the whims of the hot aural trend of the moment (sightings of hapless pseudopunk teen bands or abysmal, brainless rapcore acts on the Hub stage have been thankfully rare). And on a night when we profoundly needed to expose our ears to something new and great—hell, we would've settled for "tunefully grating"—the Hub clearly had the reliable track record going.
Our first would-be victims were Good Child, a gaggle of North County rock & rollers (their CD is called Straight Outta Brea—we love that!) who had the goods: basic two guitars/bass/drums combo, bubbling with ornery melodies, meat-beating rhythms and a scraggly voiced singer who sounded like he pours vodka on his Cheerios every morning. Singer boy tended to jabber on too long between songs, tossing shout-outs to assorted friends and family from the stage, most of whom were planted a mere five feet from his mic stand. If this were the Arrowhead Pond, then maybe we'd understand, but this was the sweet, unpretentious, intimate Hub, not a venue for incessant blabbing (unless it's in the form of freaky-ass spoken-word poetry about flying monkeys with engorged penises; trust us, we've seen some weird things at the Hub). While some teachings from the Sacred Book of Less Talk, More Rock would've been welcomed, Good Child were nonetheless peachy. The worst thing we can complain about was their shoddy CD-distribution network, which consisted of some guy handing out the discs straight off the spindle without even first depositing them in a paper slipcover or anything! So they give us free music, and then they want us to get our greasy fingerprints all over it—how gauche!Among the best things: their catchy, could-be-huge hit "Mary-Anne" (about someone who apparently wasn't around when their singer needed her most of all—or something).
Next was solo new folkie Kevin Darish, who's in the decidedly more rock-oriented bands Megamanic and Drag. He was handing out copies of his other bands' music after the show, and Drag, we decided, were awful and glammy; they cover the equally awful "Discotheque" on a U2 tribute album out now called Even Better Than the Real Thing, probably because, we guess, all the good U2 songs had already been picked over. Megamanic are vastly better, though—they have the sonic firepower of Sugar or old Hsker D and the huevos to shoot off a great, nervy blast of vitriol called "Get Off Your Fucking Rag." But back to the guy who actually performed: Darish is an impeccable picker, one who can work a 12-string acoustic as if it's a third leg. His voice is gentle and inviting, suggesting maybe Michael Penn or a sadly beautiful Rufus Wainright, especially when he's chasing after those high notes, all of which he inevitably nails. Darish offered up songs about changing identities, jealousy, alcoholism and strange love and exuded an overall love of adult, non-insipid lyrical verbiage. The man also has impeccable taste in cover tunes, at one point taking on the style-appropriate Sugar tune "Explode and Make Up." Most people in the back, though, were jabbering, obnoxious little fuckwads who couldn't shut up, which caused some threatening-looking backward glances from the Darish cult, who otherwise sat rapt up front. No fisticuffs were exchanged, though, which is kinda too bad; January has thus far been a rather bloodless month in Clubland.
After a Burgertime break at the Reagan Years video arcade out back—high score, as usual—we returned for the Diligents, who were visually noteworthy for the bass player's ear piercings (he had one of those jobs that stretch out the earlobes to a positively nauseating length. We caught a show on Discovery a few weeks ago in which women did the same thing to their lower lips—damn things were as huge as toilet seats), and the presence of Pete Berberich, late of Teen Heroes, who was putting in a guitar cameo with the band. They began with a brief acoustic set before plugging in and then revealed themselves to be yet another exemplary Hub rock outfit: generous with huge, gloppy servings of quirky, contagious pop songs, richer than even the whipped cream that crowned our cocoa—and with that, our night was capped.