The Rock Can Knockers Festival
with Velvet Fire/Mister Mirkin/In Bloom/Alana Gentry/Sofa King and the Shackletons
Club Costa Mesa
Saturday, Feb. 6 We had been cracking jokes about this show for weeks because the promo fliers featured a topless girl whose bountiful bosom was covered only by a body painting of two dog heads, their noses strategically placed where, we assumed, her nipples were. Other attractions listed: belly dancers, fire dancers, and a $200 wet T-shirt contest. Okay, we'll say it: while we're certain that the promoters' hearts are in the right place-the show was done as a charity event; anyone who brought a can of food got $2 knocked off the $7 cover-we're not quite sure if using women to lure a crowd of testosterone-riddled, slobbering males with teeny minds and even teenier weenies was necessarily the classiest way to feed the hungry. While we didn't hang around long enough to witness the wet T-shirt deal, we hope it involved both genders.On to music! Which didn't start off promisingly. We turned up just as the Shackletons were blowing out a cover of the Cure's "Just Like Heaven" to a depressingly unfestive fest crowd-there was a lot of elbow room. As covers go, it wasn't bad, but that's all we saw of them. What was up with Sofa King? Their singer kept doing this weird swirly thing with his left hand (no, you perv, he wasn't doing that-we know what that looks like), and when he sang (growled, actually), he sounded like he had a bad case of cottonmouth, rendering everything totally indecipherable. Their music was standard strip-bar fare: a lot of plodding blues chords in search of a cohesive song to build a nest in. Almost every tune, for some reason, sounded like the Doors' "5 to 1." Then, near the end of their set, somebody wisely triggered the back door alarm . . . ah! Originality at last! The alarm was clearly the band's best asset, its incessant, shrill pitch complementing Sofa King's dull downer drone. The alarm solo rocked. As for the band-well, even the plastic ivy plants around the club's rafters were more lifelike. Much, much cooler was Alana Gentry, a singer/songwriter type who was neither waify nor boring; she was sort of the anti-Jewel or a better Sheryl Crow, full of earthy, throaty, weathered vocals and lyrics that rang out like she's lived every verb. She was good-really good-but at this point, we decided we don't like the new bar configuration at DP's, which is farther away from the stage than when this joint was the Tiki Bar. Too many people were hanging out back there during her set, gulping down brew and BBQ, loudly yammering and not really caring about what was going on onstage as long as they had a cold one in their hands. It blew that Gentry had to compete with that, but worse were all the horn-dog boys who hooted and hollered at her at the end. Um, no, children, she was not part of the wet T-shirt contest. Idiots. It wasn't hard to figure out that In Bloom are divinely inspired by Nirvana: they're a trio, they're appropriately Pixies-ish, they have that name, and their first song was a snazzy "Love Buzz" cover. A good, heavy, eardrum-raping band, with an inventive guitar player who crafted some peachy distortion effects and even mimicked turntable scratching techniques with his axe. Sweeeet. Then along came Mister Mirkin to spoil it. Their longhaired lead warbler attempted to endear himself to us by (1) announcing that their drummer was off "slapping the salami," which, come to think of it, would have been far more entertaining to watch than this band, and (2) taking his shirt off, even though it was quite chilly inside and the lights in no way could have been that hot, so we were left to stare at his extremely unimpressive, scraggly chest hair while suffering through a series of obnoxious guitar farts and cantankerous caterwauling. It hurt so much that we marched into our office Monday morning and filed a worker's-comp claim. We reviewed a Velvet Fire gig last year, and, 12 months on, they're still churning out semi-charming Mott the Hoople-isms and glammy guitar fuzzies. Their lead singer is dressing better. None of that, though, excused the guy who intro'd them by saying, with apparent seriousness, "What you're about to see can't be caged or tamed-it's something you live." No, we couldn't make this stuff up! When they did their ditty about masturbation and their singer slid his hands down the front of his pants, we figured we'd better leave-fast-or else that image would haunt us for the rest of our lives. Then again, better that than a wet T-shirt contest. Special note to the Go Forth Getters posse: we wanted to check you out, but we had heard you were supposed to go on around 4, which didn't happen. Meanwhile, patience! Stop pestering us for ink! You'll get yours, eventually. Everyone will. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!Send tapes, CDs, show dates and comp tickets that we'll just turn around and scalp to Locals Only, OC Weekly, P.O. Box 10788, Costa Mesa, CA 92627.
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'What You're About to See Can't be Caged'
The Rock Can Knockers Festival