Fistful of Lonely/Motorsoule
The Gypsy Lounge
Friday, June 16
Motorsoule know glam. And props—they've got the feathered-boas-and-leather action going on, plus a big, fat, glittery, platinum "M" with red lights flashing around it rising above their heads as they play, a sort of fabulous, Liberace-esque crucifix that's very Spinal Tap. They also employ strobe lights, a megaphone, and a chainlink steering wheel mounted on singer Ricky Menace's mic stand, for no apparent reason other than it looks cool. But what counts most are the tunes, natch, and Motorsoule's are sufficiently heavy and kickin', mostly loud-and-snotty guitar grindage wrapped around the bodies of the New York Dolls, only without as much makeup. It's primal, blunt, testicle-chewing music to sideswipe cars by. What's more, Ricky has this scratchy, scraggly voice, like someone spiked his Listerine with Clorox. Most of the crowd appeared to be into it, too, though a few ignored them, which raised the question: Just how did that one guy carry on a coherent cell-phone chat with Motorsoule blaring in the background? Dick.
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Let us now praise almost-famous bands—famous in our tearstained eyes, at least. And why are our peepers tearstained? Only because of the sudden, tragic news we heard earlier in the evening that this was one of Fistful of Lonely's final shows. Final! As in no more! As in forever! Seems that lead singer/songwriter Bearden Coleman is chucking it all and moving to Noo Yawk around the end of summer, effectively imploding one of our lil' region's best practitioners of that No Depression modern alterna-country sound. Coleman's bailing on account of a girl, of all things, which made a pixyish Locals Only angel magically appear over our left shoulder, urging us to spout such niceties as, "Gosh, Bearden, that's too bad, but we hope you find joy and happiness wherever your life takes you!" while a horned little demon poofed into view over our right shoulder and made us instead think things like, "Sucka! Hope it doesn't work out and you come sulking back to OC, wearing a face longer than Gram Parsons', and get Fistful back together, arming them with a slew of freshly composed, broken, downhearted, my-baby-left-me songs from your tragically failed romance!" So while our subconscious was clearly in denial—either that, or the Rolling Rocks we had were unusually potent—the rest of ourselves could only kick back and enjoy this almost-last show, with a deep-seated need to absorb and remember as much as possible, like that whomping "Stop Dragging Me Down" song for instance, an amalgam of Springsteen/Tweedy/Earle rolled into a singular, potent, teeth-clenching, shattered-bottle unit. Fistful were perfect and glorious and triumphant, and they're supposed to do a final farewell show sometime in August, so watch for it. Sigh . . . LIFE! You are so not fair!
The White Stripes
Friday, June 23
The White Stripes appear strange and weird and nerdy at first—just a brother and sister onstage, Jack White playing guitar and blowing the harp while Meg bangs the drum kit (a kit with a bass drum painted to look like a big, red-and-white peppermint candy, no less). If you hadn't heard a lick of their music, you'd think they were gonna fart out Monkees covers or something just as sugary and safe. But then they totally surprise you with these great, noisy, wicked electric-slide blues songs that sound like the Reverend Horton Heat getting balled by Robert Johnson (at least that's what happened on their cover of "Stop Breaking Down"). They were, on this eve, a whiskey keg full of sonic splendors—Jack was albeit a trippy one all by his lonesome, with a freakily high singing voice that was equal parts Adam Sandler and Robert Plant, while the grooves he laid down were stitched-together Sabbath and Cheap Trick. Yet, through all the fuzzy pop tones that you wanted to believe they were kicking out, it was instead, unmistakably, undeniably the Blues, as authentic and honest and real as it gets. Any worshipful pilgrim who can do justice, as they did, to something like Blind Willie Johnson's "John the Revelator" and turn it into something revelatory and mind-bending deserves to get into heaven for that alone.
Really, IT CRAWLED FROM THE MAIL BIN will return next week, we swear, so keep sending your CDs, tapes and the all-important contact info to Locals Only, OC Weekly, P.O. Box 10788, Costa Mesa, CA 92627-0247.