Photo by Matt Otto DANCE DISASTER MOVEMENT
THE PROSPECTOR, LONG BEACH
SATURDAY, NOV. 9
They're a strange, strange beast, this Dance Disaster Movement—two toothpick-skinny dudes decked out in sanitarium-shock-room white, torturing the blippy-bloop pop nonsense of Erasure into what German conceptual artists will boogie to in avant-garde hell. Yes, you can keep your balance on the keening almost-ambient rafts of keyboard samples and drummer Tic-Toc's top-notch percussion, but then singer Wires—who's in Radar, right?—starts freaking out about your "sass" (from what we could hear, he wants it) and how you should shoot him in the head. (Note: the shoot-me-in-the-head song was great—yes, it's our pet subject material, but really, the aesthetic dichotomy between the pop superstructure and the anti-pop sentiment was delicious. Oh, that reminds us: Can you please shoot us in the head?) It's like if a spaceship from the Planet of the Drum-and-Bassheads crash-landed on the Planet of the Disaffected Indie Rockers; after years of ultrasecret experimentation, scientists could reverse-engineer something like Dance Disaster. Of course, security around such a project would be high: maybe that's why Dance Disaster is so militant about making people dance. Admittedly, we're naive—we still think that if a band is good, the groove will move the asses. But then again, we still believe in not fucking on a first date. So Dance Disaster arcs out energy like an overdriven Tesla coil for sure, and judging by their All-White Dancin' Crew—it's kind of a Heaven's Gate thing, but way more swingin'—they're getting definite reciprocation. But their fun-police shtick—even though they've toned down the ve-have-vays-of-making-you-dance rhetoric since a summer Youth Drop-In Center where Tic-Toc barked, "Dance or get the fuck out—I'm serious!"—still smacks of every high school P.E. class we ever weaseled out of. Sure, maybe it's just the hint of sweat; the matching white uniforms; the rows of pale, out-of-shape people who have to catch their breath halfway through digging a cigarette out of their handbag—can you blame us for flashing back? But if we learned anything from four years and several summer sessions of high school—and, arguably, we didn't—it's that anything anyone tries to make you do is automatically not fun. To each their own: personally, we have the most fun at shows when we're drunk and making out. But Drunken Makeout Disaster Movement? People would probably get hurt. (Chris Ziegler)
* * * MILLER, MAINFRAME
QUE SERA, LONG BEACH
SUNDAY, NOV. 10
Miller—conveniently named after the singer, which is nature's way of helping you focus your disgust—was four slacks-clad Quaaludes with nice equipment sleepwalking through a cloud of the lobotomized navel-gazing emo that the new Republican regime was supposed to scare out of us. People, the bombs are about to fall: after the apocalypse, NO ONE will have a secret crush anymore! Anyway, Miller was killing us softly with their suck—at one point, Miller himself was hangdog over the keyboard, banging out a drag-assed melody with the same pretentious art pain of that one muppet composer on Sesame Street. (Remember? He used to smash his head into the piano all the time? No? Geez, what kind of childhood did you miss out on?) What emotion, we wondered, was Miller trying to evoke? Jet-lag? Constipation? Is watching the TV snow on channel 102 in the middle of the night an emotion? Because if it is, we have an emotional life more intensely rich than we'd ever dreamed—anyway, Miller destroyed our ability to ever love another human being again, and we had to pay for the privilege. Shoot us in the head!
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But then: Mainframe (a dude who knows his shit tells us before the show) is supposedly the Cars plus the Gang of Four; after laundering our suddenly soiled hipster undergarments (they're like the Mormon ones but more confining, if you were wondering), we were primed with unrealistically high expectations. And fuck if Mainframe didn't rise to the occasion. Yeah, following Miller couldn't hurt—seriously, they could've rolled out Hitler in a wheelchair and had him fart through a harmonica, and we would have thrown roses. But if anyone remembers Magazine—if you saw 24 Hour Party People, they should have been in it somewhere—they'll perk up at Mainframe, who do the just-on-the-dark-side-of-pop dynamic like a legion of Mancunians before them (a little Buzzcocks, a little Joy Division, a little—yes—Gang of Four), with a four-four beat, mellifluous vox and a lot of keyboard flourishes. They got a little ragged at the end of the set—hey, it was Sunday night; we know the feeling—but they're still a solid and, more important, awake band than Miller, something that people could listen to for constructive, creative reasons instead of just for medicinal purposes. Clueless Weezer new-wave-yay! fans can take them for the wrong reasons; us insufferable art types can dig them correctly. Everybody wins! Well, except Miller, but there's nothing we can do about that, is there? (CZ)