DANCE TO THE UNDERGROUND
Radio 4 has always had a political agenda. But when they first started out, the only issues their irresistible dance rock truly threatened were New York's staunch cabaret laws. (As Footloose-ian—or Long Beach-ian—as it sounds, the powers that be in NYC distribute very few licenses that make dancing legal, and many rock clubs don't have 'em.) Thanks to dirty hooks and big beats (provided by bongos or a drum set, rather than a machine), the most arm-crossing, stageward-glaring crowds were coerced into movement. But 9/11 gave this anti-establishment five-piece something bigger to stand up for—or against. In retrospect, Radio 4 was custom-made to trash-talk terror alerts and gripe about the biased news media. The only problem? Their slick 2004 major-label release, Stealing of a Nation, isn't nearly as much fun as the old stuff—but that has more to do with the sound than the subject matter. Their debut, New Song and Dance, released in 2000 by independent label Gern Blandsten (which also gave Ted Leo, Rye Coalition and Dlek their starts) emulated P.I.L., Gang of Four and the Clash with catchy post-punk dance anthems such as "Boy Meets Girl" and "Election Day." Somehow, Stealing of a Nation, which should have been the most rabble-rousing LP on their roster, took a turn toward new wave instead. But the good news is that they still turn up the guitars really loud onstage, plus their live show packs enough energy to violate cabaret laws wherever they play. (Kara Zuaro)
RADIO 4 WITH GO GO GO AIRHEART AT GLASS HOUSE, 200 W. SECOND ST., POMONA, (909) 469-5800; WWW.THEGLASSHOUSE.US. SAT., 7 PM. $10-$12. ALL AGES.
THE POPE AND BUSINESS LADY
THE MIGHT OF THE WEIRDO
The Pope—featuring former members of the Manifolds and the Rattlesnakes—describe their sound as either "bass and drums to the extreme" or "being sat on by a giant bass guitar and drum kit." And listening to last year's split seven-inch with Bad Dudes (on Kill Shaman Records), one has a hard time accepting the simple truth that this band has but two members. Live, effect pedals weave phantom guitarists into the kind of assertive background drone usually heard through airplane windows. But despite their frantic, high-decibel invectives, there is a gentleness that suggests this is one of the good Popes—more of an enlightened John XXIII than an arrogant Boniface VIII. Bassist Paul Kneejie (who was actually fired from his job as a teacher in 2002 when similar band shenanigans were discovered by shocked school administrators) prefers Leo XIII: "Good-looking, a funny guy, but not in the habit of taking crap from anyone." Business Lady, the Pope's label mates on Pacific Rock Records, are from San Diego and appear to be a bit more bullish on the weirdo sauce. Their live shows include animal heads, silly hats and people in dresses—some of whom aren't women. It's a good thing the Long Beach City Council and planning commission both recently reworked the nudity ordinance to allow the Koo's weekly life-drawing workshops; among Business Lady's arsenal of gags is a rather risqu outfit known as the "eager beaver." (Sam McPheeters)
THE POPE WITH BUSINESS LADY, RAKING BOMBS AND GASOLINE PLEASE AT KOO'S, 530 E. BROADWAY, LONG BEACH, (562) 491-7584; WWW.KOOS.ORG. FRI., 8 P.M. $7. ALL AGES.
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Right now, somewhere out there, kids are jamming away in their parents' homes, dreaming of leaving anonymous small-town environs in search of fame in the big city. Thus has it always been. But judging by the words of Yesod Williams, drummer for LA-based ska revivalists Pepper, their move wasn't so stereotypical. First of all, he says, "we're lucky not to be from some shit-hole town." He's referring to Pepper's home, the coffee-bean center of Kona, Hawaii. "It was tough to leave—like, a leap of faith." But when they made that leap four years ago, the three-piece group (Williams, guitarist/vocalist Kaleo Wassman and bassist/vocalist Bret Bollinger) landed on a high school friend's couch in San Diego. And then—as if moving across an ocean wasn't tough enough; think pre-trip did-I-remember-my-toothbrush? jitters magnified monumentally—Pepper had to prove their emigration wasn't for nothing. Thankfully, they already had some friends here. "[Ben Brough], who does all our artwork, had been sponsored by Volcom for pro surfing," Williams says. "So Volcom let us make fliers at their office. [And] it was two years of being there daily," he says, before they were offered a record deal. Since then, they've been gigging with Snoop Dogg, 311 and, most recently, the Kottonmouth Kings (in support of their new album, In With the Old). So how does it feel to be ambassadors from a region better known for its coffee than its punkified reggae acts? "Man, the coffee from there is killer," Williams says. (Mark Sanders)
PEPPER WITH OPM AND GLUE FACTORY AT HOUSE OF BLUES, 1530 S. DISNEYLAND DR., ANAHEIM, (714) 520-2361; WWW.HOB.COM. WED., 8 P.M. $15. ALL AGES (16 AND UNDER WITH GUARDIAN).