STAYTE/TAMING INGRID/DOWNTOWN POPULAR
THE GYPSY LOUNGE
FRIDAY, JUNE 28
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We ambled into the Gypsy Lounge, told our buddy Mike to start hitting us with the Rolling Rocks, wiggled into our usual seat at the back by the mixing board and prepped ourselves for what was sure to be a most wholesome evening of aural pleasantry. For a few hours, until Stayte screwed it up, we had ourselves a fine time.
First, there was Downtown Popular, so apparently good that half of Wonderlove came out to see them. Our verdict, however, was mixed. The band played a few okay midtempo rockers glued together with adequate melancholy melodies—we especially liked their tune about how life is like an airplane going down, how it ain't over till it hits the ground (a theme that surely would've gotten them banished from all the Clear Channel radio stations post-Sept. 11). Also enticing was a song we think was about Novocain, a—how you say?—"driving rocker" that satiated our guilty pleasure for huge, sweeping choruses. Yet the laddie belting out those choruses didn't really seem right for the band, like he'd been reading The Idiot's Guide to Sexy Front Manisms. Those higher-than-high cheekbones! That long, black belt/phallus dangling between his legs, wiggling suggestively whenever he moved—which was often! The melodramatic vocal inflections that hint he's either gay, British, or both! The Inevitable Shirt-Removal Moment, though the crowd was so dead it took a full nine seconds before anyone noticed enough to holler, "Wooooo!" at the sight of exposed abs and boy nipples! Still, all that's just our anal-retentive grousing, and they wrapped up with a boozy ballad called "I'm Abusive." Such fun, happy kids!
Following an hour's wait for Fluid—the scheduled second band that never showed up—we got Taming Ingrid (wild guess: it's a coded masturbation reference). Our unspoken queries about the band name served only to keep us alienated from music that was deliriously catchy, hooky rock songs, filled with color and allure, enough to stick with you a while after their set wrapped up. A bi-gendered band, their singer was especially a treat, gifted with gruff, meaty, kozmik-blooz-mama pipes. At first, we thought she resembled either an old-fashioned schoolmarm or a God-and-country John Wayne groupie/Newport Beach housewife, with her hair wound into a severe bun and her prudish Lisa Loeb glasses. But she loosened up after a couple of songs and got comfy enough to rip her top off and flash her nekkid navel—not quite Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher" video, but close. Later, she stuck her thumb down the front of her pants, flailed around wildly like Jo Ellen Allen chugging a cup of hot PMS, and wailed into her mic the sort of sounds that'll get you thrown out of respectable establishments. At the very least, Taming Ingrid ought to be opening shows on the Coach House/Galaxy Concert Theatre/Grove of Anaheim/House of Blues circuit.
Then came death-by-closing-band. Stayte are originally from Vancouver, offering further support of our working hypothesis that "good Canadian music" is a contradiction in terms. They put us in a state, awrighty—a state of hilarity watching their tired new wave/industrial shtick. A state of befuddlement as their singer, modeling a suit apparently purloined from Spandau Ballet, insisted on funneling his vocals on the first tune through a distortion effect, perhaps an attempt to sound manlier than he really is. A state of dj vu as we watched their guitar player with the bad haircut go through that stupid, watch-me-play-all-hunched-over-my-guitar-because-gosh-darn-it-I'm-just-so-intense routine that Korn and all those phony "nu metal" bands are into. And a state of amazement wondering how we could possibly have lasted as long as the three songs we endured before bailing, unable to take this undeserved self-abuse any longer. Ouch!