RED HOT NIGHTMARE, GINGER SLING
DETROIT BAR, COSTA MESA
MONDAY, FEB. 14
Valentine's at Detroit Bar: Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet on the TV sets and Depeche Mode and Joy Division on the stereo—love will tear us apart, indeed, especially with an eclectic group of losers to choose from and heart-shaped confetti stuck to my feet. Some familiar chords brought me to the stage as My Red Hot Nightmare began to play. After the first song, lead singer Ethan said, "Dudes, I think you're going to have some explaining to do for dragging your girls to this on Valentine's Day." But I don't think the lone guy dancing like he was drowning in the corner had a girlfriend. The songs all seemed familiar, expertly crafted by someone else—the Clash, the Ramones, Social Distortion—long before, and they tied things up with a rockabilly disaster version of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues." Maybe I've never been a real punk fan, but to me, punk is about slashing open your arms with razor blades, not just tattoo guns. I wanted to see pain; I wanted to see Sid Vicious and Iggy Pop. But then again I was in Costa Mesa in 2005. On Valentine's! Next: Ginger Sling on bass in a tiny red dress and tall black boots, looking like she'd stepped out of a Paul Frank ad so summery and tan and Barbie-doll blonde. "Happy Singles Awareness Day," her keyboardist said. The opening song—something about breaking a heart; aw, cute—had sneaked off the set of a Hilary Duff movie. And there went that dancing guy again. I have to give it to Sling, though: she was sexy and sultry, and she had that bubblegum-pink pout that almost looked better in person (as opposed to her Myspace page), except it kept opening up into a song I didn't want to hear. Here lies another OC dream—a bright and spunky girl singing with all her might to a beat that made me feel like getting a French-tip manicure and a $3 tan—until I snapped out of it. (Lauren Mooney)
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HIP HOP KCLAN, ELLAY KHULE AND PTERRADACTO, HALFWAY HOUSE, ACEYALONE AND DJ DREZ
BLUE CAFÉ, LONG BEACH
FRIDAY, FEB. 11
The CDs the Hip Hop Kclan sold after their set at the Blue Café in Long Beach Friday night were burned at home, the insert printed off the bubblejet and cut out with the same scissors they might use to open a pack of hot dogs. But their sound is raw: while they were rather suspicious of the white guy with the mustache talking to them about their set, they did have the crowd going with their song "Rifleman," which certain heads in the crowd sang along to like they'd been playing it in their car before they pulled up. Ellay Khule came to the stage ready to rhyme and possibly also clean up a biohazard spill, dressed in a solid-white Tyvek painter's jump suit. His right-hand man, Pterradacto, looked like he enjoyed making faces while Ellay spit, but when it was his turn to step to the mic, Pterradacto would leg out at least a triple with his fast-paced throaty delivery; something like Existero from the Shapeshifters after a few whiskey-and-cokes. Usually you never go early enough to see the opening act unless it's your cousin, but Long Beach residents Halfway House made up for the wet walk in the rain with a trio of different styles, rhymes and delivery, not to mention an ethnic diversity Nancy Reagan would be proud of. Their stage presence and energy was enough to sustain the crowd and even coax out the occasional scream of excitement and/or alcoholic bliss. After a rainy smoke break, the crowd crawled in just in time to see Aceyalone and DJ Drez, who closed the book on a solid evening. (Charlie Rose)