FAIRVIEW/CIO CIO SAN
SATURDAY, JULY 8
Even with Smile already on the bill, this show was supposed to have been bigger than this. Sense Field were originally scheduled but were forced to back out (contract reasons) once they got booked for This Ain't No Picnic. Then Tsar, the "hot LA buzz band"—that's what other people are calling them, not us—were also supposed to play. Posters were made and everything! Not only did Tsar cancel, but they had to back out of their Hub gig the night before as well. We're looking forward to catching Tsar to find out if they're worth the hype or merely a ridiculously redundant version of glam rock being recycled for the umpteenth time by the wretched myoosick industry (they are on Hollywood Records).
We've seen Cio Cio San before, but only now have we stumbled across the origins of their moniker (pronounced CHO-CHO-SAN, if you really wanna know). Cio Cio San was the real name of Madame Butterfly as translated into Italian by Puccini for his famous opera, but we doubt that the band copped it from such a highfalutin' source—oh, if only local bands could be that well-read and intellectually stimulating! Instead, it's more than likely they borrowed it from a line out of the Weezer song "El Scorcho"—"And then my heart stopped listening to Cio Cio San/Fall in love all over again." This means that Rivers Cuomo is talking about his love for Puccini, y'see, but Cio Cio San the band can now spin it around and make it sound like Rivers is a fan of theirs, and in the current wave of Weezer-revival mania, this can be an advantage. Clever! So . . . what band could you possibly think Cio Cio San sounds like? Yep—Molly Hatchet meets Depeche Mode at a Cher concert! No, no, no, kidding, kidding. Cio Cio have some good, decent, cohesive songs, a nice, moody pop band, mostly, though the problem with being Weezeresque—especially, as we said, in the current wave of Weezer-revival mania—is that all the bands out there who do this sort of math-nerd-pop thing (and there are lots) aren't as interesting now that the real thing is back in operation. Still, Cio Cio have some okay melodies, and we can envision them evolving one day into a unit that's a lot stronger and more creative than they are now. They're young—we'll give them time.
We got word that Fairview was rumored to be "the best band in OC"—heh, who isn't? And . . . are they? Of course not. But they were quite charming, if—like Cio Cio—somewhat Weezer-ish as well. Their singer, at least, seemed as nervous and jittery and non-self-confident as Cuomo himself, only without the math-nerd aftertaste. His voice was quirky, high and reedy, and he gave off this strange I-used-to-be-in-a-ska-band aura. We don't know if that's true, but we appreciated his cheekiness, like when he had the brass to utter, "We would like to be welcomed with a warm round of applause!" at the start of their set (one song came with its own canned applause at the end, just in case). They're four guys and a girl keyboardist named Grace, and Grace dabbled with neat, tinkly, music-box sounds that contrasted well with the rest of her band's crunchy, slashy guitars approach. Not bad, not bad—some nice notes and dramatic pauses, but not the best. But what do we know? They're playing Aug. 4 at Koo's Art Caf—go and draw your own conclusions.
IT CRAWLED FROM THE MAIL BIN THE JOHN WILKES KISSING BOOTH (THREE-SONG DEMO CD) The Kissing Booth's Derrick Brown is that rare monster, a renowned poet whose words actually work well as song lyrics. Plus, he can really sing—how weird is that? We dig his imagery, too: "Forget the mouthwash, baby, just kiss me again," "Sugar lip-locks and cocoa sun blocks"—hey, it beats "Gimme something to break!" any day. Those lines are from "Tailgunner's Ballad," which backs Brown's words with sleepy, dreamy, gentle little guitar pick-picks (the music can be a tad Grateful Dead, but more in the beauty realm than the psychedelic one) until the final 30 seconds or so, when they rise up, explode and crash into each other—trust us, it's pretty cool. "The Union Rides Again," meanwhile, seems all about paranoia and freakiness: "You're a nut, you're a whore/ You're the stalker at my door/You're the reason I triple-lock at night/You obsessed little pest/You are clearly not the best/But I guess you're the best for me." Hmmm . . . could Derrick get some therapy here?
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