The Tiki Bar
Friday, Jan. 19
'Twas the rumblings of OC punk rock history that led us to the Tiki Bar—that, and a general state of mourning on the eve of King George the Smirker's coronation. We were hoping to be buoyed by some good old-fashioned punk from Agent Orange, one of the key shapers of the classic OC sound. We had also been tipped that this week marks the 20th anniversary of the fabled incident when the late Pat Brown tried to "run the motherfucking cops into the ground" outside the Cuckoo's Nest, which once stood a couple of doors down from the Tiki. So what better locale—or occasion—in which to contemplate fighting the power?
Or, hell, fighting the opening band? Not that Loogie, a five-piece gaggle led by a fuschia-haired girl singer, were that offensive or bad —they just weren't terribly interesting. From where we stood (halfway back to the bar, leaning against the Asteroids machine), everything sounded muddled, like they kept doing the same tune over and over again. Our ears only perked up when we thought they were doing familiar covers ("Hey," we thought to ourselves, "isn't this 'Search & Destroy'/'Anything Anything'/ 'One Way or Another'?") because God knows their originals weren't cutting it for us. But sadly, those "covers" turned out to be their own stuff. Loogie were a too-safe band, it seemed, and we were tempted at times to hock up their big, gloppy, green, gooey namesake from our lungs and send it flying their way. We'll get enough conservatism during the next four years—why should we tolerate any from our local stages?
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Better were Wax Apples, a new band put together by Brian Coakley of the Cadillac Tramps as something to keep him occupied during his other band's downtime. They're definitely a winner, a more straight-ahead rock & roll outfit with a hint of the blues—think Exile-era Stones—than the grease-punk directions the Tramps take. The quartet has Coakley's wife warbling away on backing vocals; Tramps bro Warren Fitzgerald on bass; Some Dude We Didn't Recognize playing drums; and Coakley himself making his Gibson groove, pop and heave with heaps of nifty, nasty riffs. Sweet!
Foxy were wonderful, as per their norm, charging through a set highlighted by "Promises & Lies" and the now-suddenly-out-of-date "2000 A.D." Most annoying, though, was the sad cretin who got up really close to the band and kept sticking his middle finger in Lisa Parker's and Greg Antista's faces—we aren't sure what offended us more: that that's just plain rude, or that banal finger-flipping is only punkdom's most gargantuan clich ever. Really, son, this was stale even back in '81. Antista looked too cool to care, though, like he was trying to keep from laughing at the poor sod.
Agent Orange: still around! But, jeez, Mike Palm's surf-punk licks are still pretty tasty, too—give him props for keeping that sound alive for more than two decades. So we got a "Miserlou" opening, "El Dorado," "Bloodstains" and takes on "Secret Agent Man" and the old Jefferson Airplane chestnut "Somebody to Love" (as people ironically pummeled one another in the slam pit, naturally).
But Agent Orange wasn't the story. Rather, it was a stout, bespectacled, balding guy in the crowd who was decked out in a studded black-leather jacket with 45 Grave, TSOL and Public Image Ltd. buttons affixed to the lapels; shiny, comfortable shoes; and a pair of trousers that screamed I SELL INSURANCE. You could tell he was there to relive a bright, shining moment from his wild, reckless youth—perhaps an old night at the Cuckoo's Nest before Real Life intervened? Now, it wasn't as pathetic as you might think because when Palm lit into "Miserlou" and the pit started a-churnin', the guy was right there in the middle of it, slamming right and left with this big, happy, content grin on his chubby mug, like it was 1981 all over again. He was doing great. And then, a few songs later, he vanished. We turned around and saw him hobbling out the door, aided by a burly security man—apparently he had hurt his ankle in the pit. It was heartbreaking—a sad denouement for old punkers everywhere. Goddamn it, you really can't stay 21 forever.