What was up with the overwhelming slew of mildly to highly interesting shows Dec. 3? There was stuff going on from Carbon Canyon down to Lake Forest and way out across the border in the LBC. It's like everybody wanted to get in a last gig before New Year's (which, as you know, is when the world will explode into zillions of itty-bitty pustulating pieces).
Things were feeling apocalyptic enough as we raced around OC trying to take in as much music as possible, our trusty Localsmobile hindered by such obstacles as tornado-like Santa Ana conditions, idiot drivers on the 22 freeway, and Ducks game traffic tie-ups. We caught what we could, but we're still sorry we missed the Cadillac Tramps at the Foothill, Weedpuller at Hogue Barmichael's, the Negro Problem/ Funhole/Johnny Jones at the Lava Lounge, 22 Jacks and All the Madmen at Linda's Doll Hut, former Damned singer Dave Vanian at La Vida Roadhouse, ex-Ramone Dee Dee at the Tiki Bar (old-school punk invasion! It is the end of the world!)—even that Metallica cover band at the Shack. Oh, for the want of a Mini-Me! Or five!
Titan Student Union, Cal State Fullerton
Friday, Dec. 3
So we first found ourselves in this big ballroom at CSUF, where some sorta big rock & roll hip-hop thing was going down—as were the Inkwell Chemists, a sloppy, spirited trio that started with these deceptively simple, obtuse warm-up jams that slid into fascinating Pixies-ish instrumental wig-outs. Ah—so they were trying to be all alterna-art-rock, no? No! They straddled the lines—maybe even drew their own—between art-rock, thrash, mild grindcore and Giant Sand-cum-Grandaddy-like lo-fi, with an odd disco beat thrown in to really mess you up. Yet it somehow worked, a combo that climbed the kind of creative peaks that can sometimes only be conquered by exploring new routes—whatever they were. Maybe they don't even know themselves, but all we know is that their colors made for some primo listening.
As for Limbeck, we caught only a song and a half—we blame the Santa Anas for making us late. But it was a good song and a half! Really!
The Killingtons/Hot Rod Circuit/ New Found Glory
Friday, Dec. 3
Then it was off to Chain Reaction, which was mobbed. The fabulous Killingtons were back, so there was a feeling that something really big was going on inside. But we decided that support band New Found Glory were ultimately kinda ordinary. Next! Which was Connecticut's Hot Rod Circuit—better, with a singer who blurted out strange, hyperkinetic vocals, which he spread across a bed of moody-yet-"up" instrumentation. You could probably call them "emo," too, but happier, doped-up emo.
Who'd pass up a chance to scrawl laudatory things about the Killingtons? Not us! What'd we say last time? Something about how they keep getting better and better? Well, now they're even better than that! Intense, hard, amazing, brilliant, woof-woof, tweet-tweet, woo-hoo, clap-clap. Great bands like these make us wet ourselves. Their album—and we are counting the days —should finally be out in February, we hear. Unless the world ends, natch.
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Friday, Dec. 3
The last stop on our wild tonal tour: the Women's reunion-but-don't-call-it-a-reunion show. And how perfect, how stunning, how drop-dead gorgeous was this? They played for just an hour, but in that hour, it felt as if the planets, stars, satellites and spaceships with their bug-eyed spacemen had all aligned themselves to create a wondrous cosmic pull, something magical, something good, pure and beautiful—and we weren't even drinking! Let's just say it was a spectacular rock & roll show, one so grand that we were too afraid to take notes for fear of missing something incredible, whether it was a knockout guitar riff or a wry lyric trick. If you want a neatly wrapped sound description, think the Stooges fisting the Modern Lovers, we suppose, but the Women were about so much more than mere adjectives. In this final month of the final year of the final decade of the 20th century, in a universe dominated by musical swill, by the kind of bland aural turd that's light-years removed from what real rock & roll was supposed to be, the Women pretty much stole the music back on Friday, reminding us of its potential and possibilities. All they need to do is play shows more often, and they—and we—just might win the war against crap-rock.