That's Great, That Sucks
The Shemps may not be Guitar World-caliber musicians or skinny-tie hipsters, but they're probably having more fun than your band, and they're most definitely wreaking more havoc. The New York City sextet—consisting of one shoplifter, two construction workers, a guy with Tourette's and a couple of other self-proclaimed "schlubs"—play loose, catchy, beer-soaked punk that will shake your skull and move your ass. Not exactly Pazz & Jop darlings, though: "At a Shemps show," begins bassist Bill Florio, "there's some forced audience participation—we get in your face and up your ass—and sometimes everyone walks out, but we're gonna make sure everyone remembers we were there." Latest release Spazz Out With the . . . is a balls-out blast of fuck you—16 all-under-two-minutes songs that turn shitty into witty with a few choice words. On "That's Great That Sucks," singer Artie Philie snaps and snarls like a fire just splashed with Pabst Blue Ribbon: "Girls hate me/they think I'm a creep/but at least now I get some sleep." With charm like that, it's no wonder it didn't take long for the Shemps' lone lady member to haul ass. Says Florio, "I think girls have a hard time taking this sort of stupidity seriously." So that's the Shemps: six men merrily making music that doesn't bore them and hoping somehow, some way the Riverboat Gamblers get huge so they can go on tour with them. "Until then," says Florio, "I think you can pretty much count on a Shemps show being at that club with no sign and no doorknob for a long time to come." (Kat Jetson)
The Shemps perform with The Orphans and Flash Express at Alex's Bar, 2913 E Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 434-8292; www.alexsbar.com. Fri., 9 p.m. $5. 21+.
Baby Comes Back
In the early '90s, an artist from Seattle wrote a song that changed everything. It was a paean for the ages that succinctly and thoroughly examined the desires and passions of the adolescent male in a way no pop musician has before or since. That artist was Sir Mix-A-Lot, and that song was "Baby Got Back." Sure, there had been attempts at writing the ultimate ode to the ass before "Baby"—see "Rump Shaker" and "Da Butt," for starters—but they tended to focus on the kinetic energy of a backfield in motion, while ignoring the subtler attributes of the ass as an entity unto itself. Sir Mix-A-Lot's rumbling revelry of the rump began with a definitive proclamation—"I like big butts, and I cannot lie!"—and never thereafter waivered in its intense and contagious passion. Nearly a decade and a half later, the uplifting words of "Baby" have curiously evolved from a tribute to a black woman's ass into a rallying cry for repressed white males everywhere. At conventions, wedding receptions, family reunions, country and western bars—no joke, we've heard it—or anywhere the rhythmless congregate, it now serves as a safe and amusing way for closet heinie fanatics to let loose with three and a half minutes of joy. (Michael Coyle)
SIR MIX-A-LOT WITH YOUNG MC AT THE VAULT 350, 350 PINE AVE., LONG BEACH, (562) 590-5566; www.vault350.com. FRI., 8 P.M. $20. ALL AGES.
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Licking The Envelope
Kids these days have too much respect for authority. Like LA's retro-wave quintet Mika Miko, who weren't even born during the heyday of bands like X-Ray Spex and the Slits, though they're apparently mature enough to shop for reissues online: four "pushing 20-year-old" girls with a barely legal guy drummer and a lo-fi sputter that sounds fittingly hasty and hostile, if not quite appropriately iconoclastic. Singers Jenna and Jennifer yelp and bop in rigid frenzy, shouting obtuse Dada-isms about forensic scientists and sleepover slumber parties on their self-titled Post Present Medium Records debut seven-inch. It's all perfectly studied and energized, but something seems awry in Mika Miko's reverent revival of the music of their parents' generation. The band—whose name means "storytelling" in Japanese—flop around onstage dressed in boys' underwear, screaming into modified telephone receivers and beating on unadulterated vintage equipment, an apparent attempt to revive dead spirits. But punk rock has always been about irreverence for what was relevant at the moment—the Sex Pistols' decrying the Queen's Jubilee during Britain's near-financial collapse or the Ramones' bubble-gum blitzkrieg against mellow AM-radio pop—and Mika Miko seems too comfortable with pantomime, instead of giving the middle finger to (now) status quo rebellion. But maybe that's their point–we've all become so versed in the art of resistance that the act of pushing the envelope is the same as licking it closed. (Dave Clifford)
MIKA MIKO WITH WIVES, GANG-WAY!, BARR AND THE DIVORCE AT 51 BUCKINGHAM, 296 W. second ST., POMONA, (909) 629-0051; www.51buckingham.com. WED., 7 P.M. CALL FOR COVER. ALL AGES.