Plain-Wrap Punk

The Four Letter Words/The Jag-Offs/ The GC5/CTW
Chain Reaction
Saturday, Nov.

Perhaps we were mentally adrift in a post-Turkey Day stupor, but we did not approve of CTW, a four-man punk-leaning band whose bassist sported a Che Guevara tee underneath his metal-studded jacket, as if their tepid tunes were something approaching revolutionary—which they weren't. Instead, they squirted some of the blandest, most beaten-down, overabused punk riffs imaginable, bringing nothing even slightly original to the big ol' scowlin' party. At one point, someone in the crowd (not us) yelped, "You suck!"—an opinion with which we didn't disagree. Given that negative feedback, you'd think CTW would've stepped up, but then they had to go prove the heckler's point by mangling a "Louie Louie" cover that somehow stumbled into a "Wild Thing" cover, the words to which escaped their singer (of course, you could argue that nobody really has to know the words to "Louie Louie," but that's a whoooole other story). The band seemed rather convinced of their own suckage when they intro'd one tune thusly: "Time for another shitty song!" Truer words were never spoken. Really, kids, the we-just-don't-give-a-fuck routine is pretty ancient. But CTW's worst moment came at the end, when their drummer launched into a freakin' drum solo we thought would never end. It was sad. The sound guy felt sorry for them, and so did we—a punk band that thinks like the Pistols but behaves like Rush. Later, we learned that CTW stands for "Call Them Whatever." So we will: How about "crappy"?

Much better were the GC5—more polished and cohesive, yet still very punk in a Dickies sorta way. Plus, they're from Cleveland, a seriously depressing burg, which is pretty punk rock. Check out this bit of stage banter from their guitar player: "This is a pretty good club you guys got here. If they had had something like this when I was growing up, maybe I wouldn't have sniffed all the glue I did." Okay, so maybe drug chatter isn't original, but GC5 certainly did punk better than CTW and actually seemed nice, even dedicating songs to other bands on the bill, instead of hiding behind cranky, fuck-this faades. We'd see 'em again. We might even pay next time.

But you couldn't pay us enough to experience the Jag-Offs again. Lessee here: a guitar player in a bathrobe, a bassist with a hairdo purloined from a Ramone, and a not-quite-up-to-par girl guitarist who, every time she sang, faded in and out of the mix because she had to keep looking down at the fretboard to make sure her fingers were doing what she wanted them to do. But people weren't exactly there to imbibe playing skills—they came to mosh, so the band was happy to supply a mishmash of two-minute tunes, standard punk misbehavior (charming for about five, maybe 10 seconds), and not-very-well-placed energy. Unless you were in the pit, the Jag-Offs were pretty dull, really, and we think we even caught a few people nodding off amidst the swirl.

The Four Letter Words. Hmmm . . . we should probably be diplomatic here, seeing that we work with the bassist. Cordiality would seem to be the operative word. Still, we never know when the nastier, meaner half of our Locals Only split personality may rise up and spew, so we'll commence gingerly: the Four Letter Words were a good, fun band (THEY WERE HORRIBLE! MUSIC PUMPED STRAIGHT FROM SATAN'S ANUS!) with a loyal, decent-sized following (OF SHEEP!), a punk act (PUNK? BWAH-HA-HA-HAW!) who were into comedy—including mild cross-dressing outbreaks—and fronted by a pseudo-redneck in a fake mustache who barked lyrics (SONGS ABOUT FUCKING PIKACHU! WHAT THE FUCK?!?) in an exaggerated hillbilly accent (HE SOUNDED LIKE YOKO ONO GETTING DRAWN AND QUARTERED!). You could call them punk rock (THEY HAD FUCKING STROBE LIGHTS! WHAT IS THIS, DISCO?!?), but they were more like mock rock in the finest Tubes tradition. It's so hard to say anything bad about a band who were having so much gosh-darn fun onstage (IF DOG FARTS COULD BE SET TO MUSIC, THEY'D BE NO. 1 IN BILLBOARD!) and whose audience was clearly having such an awesome time enjoying a performance by this fine bunch of talented musicians (HUUUURRLL!!! HEY—I GOTCHER FOUR-LETTER WORD RIGHT HERE, BRO. . . . S-U-C-K!!!), one of the brighter lights on the OC scene (OH, GOD! MAKE THEM STOP!!!). They were even better than Limp Bizkit, which is saying a lot (THEY WERE EVEN BETTER THAN LIMP BIZKIT, WHICH AIN'T SAYING FRIGGIN' MUCH!).

Send CDs, tapes and the all-important contact info to Locals Only, OC Weekly, P.O. Box 10788, Costa Mesa, CA 92627-0247.

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