Photo by Matt OttoThe Neptunes
International Surf Museum, Huntington Beach
Sunday, Sept. 12
They were big barrel-chested guys who looked like they could drink some beer, but you know, they weren't gonna get to: in downtown Huntington, you can tool around with a pit bull in your bike basket, but you gotta stay dry when you're sitting on Olive Street, watching a surf band. And it was a hot day to be dry. The Neptunes were shady under a little thatched tiki house, but after a two-hour set with barely any rest stops, the tendons in the drummer's fists were still poking out. They soldiered sweatily forth anyway, doing about every standard you'd hope for (but did we miss "San-Ho-Zay" and "Telstar"?) and their own ambitiously similar originals (or superobscurities?), and they even did baby food like "Mission: Impossible" which made goofs around the corner, where the band couldn't see them, do chicken dances for their girlfriends. They had big guitar-bass combos (two-in-ones, kinda like Cheap Trick) and matching personalized fezzes—which was the gimmick and which was the shtick?—and generally appropriate equipment (all Fender on stage-right and evidently one of the new Vox amps on the left?) and a manly dedication to orthodox consistency—that guitar tone was probably the cleanest thing Huntington's seen since they got the flush turlets installed upstream. It was a nice day to sit and eat hot dogs and be a stately ex-surfer, or a nice day to be a dentist or librarian who grew up in Iowa but still loved that song from Pulp Fiction, or even a nice day to be a guy who walks past and asks (directly to a palm tree, for some reason; maybe he thought it would know), "Is that Dick Dale?" And so the Neptunes sounded nice. Two hours in the local surf would probably kill you, but two hours of surf music? Fine for us sitting in the shade, but the Neptunes had to suffer for it. "Killer set," said the guy at the end, and he meant it.