The Gypsy Lounge
Friday, July 21
Nothing like a relaxing post-Feedback-issue night out, catching a bill with three of our favorite bands, Third Grade Teacher, the Fire Ants and Sparkle*Jets UK—bands that stroke our fan-boy side instead of our prickly rock-critic one, so we can just kick back and wallow in all their extra-special goodness.
Eh, but what's this opening band? Media Blitz: very punk, certainly, with the required racehorse backbeats and angry-hornet guitars, but interesting for their singer—a screechy girl with thick-rimmed nerd specs, pigtails and big, frilly bloomers, hillbilly chic that made her look like she'd be comfier playing the Grand Ole Opry or gettin' hitched to her brother than spewing pain and vitriol all over the stage. Their big selling point was their props, though, such as a TV with the band's name painted on it that they took a sledgehammer to at the end of their set (okay, so it wasn't exactly a probing, Ben Bagdikian/Noam Chomsky-style intellectual analysis of the effects of media on society, but as punk rock, it worked). Less clear was their guitar player, who mysteriously wore a viking helmet throughout, while the entire band took turns stroking and fondling a huge, inflatable penis (that was almost, but not quite, as big as our own), rubbing it between their collective thighs and dousing its mushroom tip with a thick, foamy beer head to simulate . . . well, you can figure it out. Most of their tunes seemed to be about peni, in fact—only fair, since Captain Cream's across the parking lot is all about tits, tits, tits. But Media Blitz were fun, even if they were ultimately junk food.
Willy Waldman & the Chocolate Factory/Bourbon Jones
The Lava Lounge
Saturday, July 22
Night Two of our Great Lounge Mini-Tour found us in Long Beach, with an extensive bill stuffed under the moniker Willy Waldman & the Chocolate Factory—"featuring members of the Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage and Banyan," the ad proclaimed (calm down, though, there was nobody there you would have known) and coupled with windsmen Calvin Newborn and Herman Green, who used to play with Miles Davis.
This was basically a fabulous, furry jam session, a sweet-as-their name amalgamation of jazz, funk and freak-out guitar contortions (not unlike some of those weird old Miles Davis funk-fusion records from the '70s). There were horns and deep-bottomed bass rumblings, all conducted by a trumpeter—we assumed he was Willy—who spent lots of time jumping up and down (though not exactly in time). Well, at least he was happy, perhaps getting off on his combo's free-flowing, wandering grooves and their smoky, funk-drenched rhythms and riffs. There were slight variations, such as when a slower jam brought in an element of psychedelic nails-on-the-chalkboard sax-screeching la Ornette Coleman. Yet it all felt perfectly free and earthy, with not a pretentious stray note in the bunch—the excitement lay in the possibility that something wonderful could happen at any moment, and when it did, you'd hate yourself for turning your ears away. Very vibrant, alive, passionate music—all we could do was sit there and smile and suck it all in.
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The always-grand Bourbon Jones opened, a quartet of nattily dressed young men who preach the gospel blues. Their genius lies in their uncanny ability to make music that sounds as if it were being blasted away in a smoky Delta juke joint. Their songs feel aged, withered and worn-out, and on a casual listen, you'd swear that they were merely modern, raved-up takes on old Blind Willie Johnson tunes. Witness "Glory Train," the title track from their last CD (and also featured on Nothing but Treble, the new OC Weekly compilation CD—plug, plug!), which could easily be belted out by a Southern Baptist choir. But they're all originals, astoundingly, which means that either they've spent a lot of time gigging around Mississippi (they haven't; they're from Long Beach!) or the very spirit of dearly departed Blind Willie himself flows through their veins. It's enough to make you wanna get born again. Adding to Bourbon Jones' allure this night were the writhing bodies of several women who danced suggestively on the floor in front of them while they were playing—the perfect collision of sin and salvation.
IT CRAWLED FROM THE MAIL BIN NATURAL AFRODISIAC (SELF-TITLED FIVE-SONG CD EP) Three years ago, the Natural Afros (then known as plain ol' Afrodisiac) were putting out cheap cassettes from their Stanton base and hustling to get heard like everybody else. Now they've landed decent LA management, played on bills with the likes of Ozomatli and Herbie Hancock, and scraped together a cool animated website that's as funky and far-out as the grooves they make themselves (it probably looks even better on acid—we don't know, we're just presuming). None of this would matter if the music wasn't the same hot-shit mix of bodacious beats, horny horn-bleats and wacky wah-wah-ing stacked around the Eternal Worship of Holy Mother Groove, though. Everything is vise-tight, a percolating blend of tribal rhythms and the cool croon of Jamie Allensworth, who's mastered the classic soul man's technique of saying more with how he sings rather than with the words he belts out.
Info: (310) 588-6297; www.natural afrodisiac.com.
Send your CDs, tapes and the all-important contact info to Locals Only, OC Weekly, P.O. Box 10788, Costa Mesa, CA 92627-0247.