Waiting for the Great Leap Backward
Food Not Bombs Benefit
Carter Lanes, Fullerton
Sunday, Nov. 5
So there we all were Sunday, we last vestiges of the True American Left (stoic vegan warriors, spiky-haired punk rockers, patchouli-scented hippies, earnest information tablers, stern-faced straightedgers and sourpussed Locals Only writers), barricaded inside a cigar-box-sized dance hall that itself was tucked deep inside a Fullerton bowling alley. We were shaky, jittery and tense—and why shouldn't we have been, just 48 hours before the End-of-the-World/ Election-Day scenario played itself out? As you read this, of course, it already has—so a big Sieg Heil! shout-out to whoever won.
This was a benefit for the newly formed Fullerton chapter of Food Not Bombs, the nationally prominent anti-war, anti-poverty organization that performs really, really radical acts. Such as feeding hungry people, f'r instance —something so far-out that even Jesus (the original Lefty) did stuff like that.
And an appropriately well-worn room this was, one that retained a distinct built-in-the-Eisenhower-years aura: just four walls, a roof and a ripped, gum-encrusted carpet. (We dared not sit down for fear of getting week-old Bubble Yum stuck to our bootie.) This also being an activist event, there were the requisite radic-lib info tables, with all sorts of enlightening fliers plugging various causes (animal rights, Mumia, etc.). Of particular interest were copies of the Unabomber Manifesto ($1—cheap!) and a stack of circle-A anarchy leaflets that railed against Ralph Nader for being—get this—too far Right! Silly Lefties —there's just no pleasing us!
We waltzed in halfway through the set by our favorite protest singer, Erik Rez, and his band, the Factery Rejects. Erik's usually a politically charged folkie when he plays by himself, but the band transformed his tunes into unashamed folk-punk—such as the great anti-apathy anthem "Welcome," which ended in a flurry of guttural, pissy howling, random bass-abuse and upturned drum kits.
Glamour were even sweeter, a Long Beach band with a very 1960s garage-punk vibe about them, with their cheesy roller-rink organ sounds placed behind the yelps and yowls of their herky-jerky vocalist, who was dressed in a cream-colored shirt, matching tie and brown pants that either said, "I love polyester" or, "I work for UPS." They were crazy, rude and chaotic, like a lost jewel off the classic Nuggets box set come to life, or what the first inklings of punk must've felt like. Sadly, they were over way too soon.
Amaru, an experimental (read: not very good) duo from Whittier, seemed to have the correct, politically motivated inspiration going (such as a song dedication to everyone who protested the Democratic National Convention), but they just weren't musically enticing—a Colombian woman tinkered with some keyboards, a guy molested a guitar, and together, they shoved it against a drum track. It all seemed too disorganized for our tender ears, so we cut out midway to search for an open pool table. We did, however, appreciate the keyswoman's speech raging against Clinton's sending of U.S. aid to her country to lengthen the phony, unwinnable, punk-ass drug war.
A subdued solo-acoustic-folker named Sas was next, but we've no clue as to what her songs were about since too many people in the back were mumbling loudly. We're pretty sure we heard the word "transvestite" somewhere, though, if it helps.
The impeccable Relish blew up into a four-piece for this night, which still sounded as great as they always are, blah blah blah. Really, what can we say about Relish you shouldn't already know? Oh, here's something: Laurita is a kick-ass bowler, and she plays a mean Flying-V.
Joe & the Chickenheads topped off the evening with one of their typically weird, wonderful shows—bands with Swiss-cheese, carrot and chicken headdresses tend to be entertaining like that. But even they were upstaged by the gaggle of punkers, who performed wild, flailing interpretive dances during their set. Speaking of carrots, you can get more info on Fullerton Food Not Bombs by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning (714) 870-8132. Remember, feeding hungry people is a good thing! (Rich Kane)
Bamboo Terrace, Costa Mesa
Friday, Nov. 3
"C'mon! They're the most talentedest1 musicians I know!" said my friend, who knows a lot of musicians and who records bands at his recording studio and who recorded Slippers. He was trying to cajole me into going to see them play at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night. Now, look: I'm just as much a sucker for talentedest bands as the next ravishingly beautiful music critic, but 7:30 p.m.? That's nap time! That's get-ready-for-Friday-night time! That's oh-God-I-hope-he-calls-me time!2 That's take-a-leisurely-shower-and-apply-makeup-time!3 That's check-my-e-mail-and-avoid-phone-calls-from-my-mom-who's-going-to-make-me-feel-guilty-for-not-coming-over-for-dinner time! Hey, that's dinnertime!
"That early? Why are they playing that early?" asked my roommate, busily flipping back and forth between Jeopardy and Friends.
"It's like a dinner thing," said my friend.
"Oh," said we.
And so it was that all three of us went to a Chinese restaurant called Bamboo Terrace to see Slippers, who were not only very talented but also, one might infer from their generally contented appearance and heavy lids, very stoned.
"We are Slippers from Long Beach," announced the guitar player, whose beard rivals both Jeremy from Lit and all three members of ZZ Top.4 The five Slippers (guitar, bass, drums, congas and keyboard) wear shiny, satiny, Chinese pajama-looking outfits. "They are wearing authentic Chinese courtship suits," said my roommate, but I'm pretty sure she pulled that out of her ass. Plus, she's never been squired by an authentic Chinese man.
Slippers play progressive jazz that's very noir-ish and atmospheric and moody and full of dynamics and vaguely Eastern-influenced. I'd almost say it's experimental, but that makes it sound like there are big huge yawning gaps of sound involving nothing more than a rainstick or didjeridu or, even worse, someone rubbing a pick against a guitar string to make that squeaking sound or tapping their guitar pickups or doing weird things with rubber hosing. Slippers don't even have a rainstick or didjeridu! Plus, they're more frenetic than that, but in a mellow way. "They're very yang," said the aforementioned roommate. Yang, indeed!
The incredible drummer played with bundlesticks, which is always cool, and the incredible keyboard player, at one point, played this keyboard thing you blow into.
"By God, he's taking bong rips onstage!" I proclaimed to my friends, but I was mostly just crapping around to distract myself from the Happy Hibachi Couple seated behind us, who were furiously making out only inches from their flaming tabletop grill. Then I suggested it might be funny if my friend lit his cigarette on their hibachi, but that's just because I would appreciate it if no one was in love around me and it's not like he did it, anyway.
Sometimes, apparently, Slippers have vocals; not tonight. They were entirely instrumental save for the "Woo!" that kept emanating from the stage. I never did figure out who was wooing. Also, their latest CD consists of two songs, one of which is about 20 minutes long and has 15 or so parts. They played this song, but I think they only included about 13 of the parts.
"Since when do you have all this noise?" a little old lady asked the restaurant's owner at one point. From the back, the little old lady looked frighteningly like my grandmother, but I think my grandma would have liked Slippers. Which is not to say they're grandma music because they're not, but rather that they possess amazing, incredible, exhilarating talent, which is something with multigenerational appeal.
Even if the Happy Hibachi Couple didn't seem to notice. (Alison M. Rosen)
1. Yes, he actually said, "talentedest." Just like that: talentedest.
2. Now, see, that horrible book The Rules says you should never accept a weekend date after Wednesday, but it also says you should never stay on the phone with a guy for longer than 10 minutes and, to that end, you should keep an egg timer by the phone, to which I respond: Isn't an egg timer only good for three minutes, and also, what the hell good is a guy who's all hot for me if I don't even know whether I like him because I never talk to him for long enough to find out because I'm always getting off the phone?
3. I'm high-maintenance, okay?
4. ZZ Top make me physically ill. Yes, their earlier stuff is good but when I think of them, all I think about is THAT HORRIBLE SLEEPING BAG SONG. I HATE THAT SONG!
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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