Catch any TV coverage last weekend of Woodschlock '99? You know, the big New York crap-band convention? You didn't miss much. At least 85 percent of the three-day bill was totally worthless major-label marketing schemes passing themselves off as listenable bands—nothing else spells "counterculture" quite like Sheryl Crow doing a "Sweet Child O' Mine" cover, hmmm? It seemed like the perfect environment for a retch-rock band like Neve to play in, but they wound up at Chain Reaction instead. More on themin a sec.
But first there was Buck, an immaculate LA trio obsessed with wonderfully intense, full-on guitar hooks, sounding kinda like L7 but with a tad less abrasion. They were fronted by a female singer who obviously hadn't learned a thing from the all-too-submissive Lilith Fair (she came to holler—loudly, a very splendid thing) and who seemed genuinely angry about things, like on this one song called "Sucker," in which we thought she was going to jump offstage and kick some ass just because she felt like it. Buck were instantly lustable—yet another band we'll make sure gets plenty of radio airplay after we finish taking over the world. Their music, at least, sure felt like the soundtrack for a revolution.
And then there was Neve—not revolutionary, just revolting. It didn't help their case that we caught an unfortunate glimpse of their guitarist clumsily putting on his silver rock-star pants in the parking lot before the show. Nor did these prima donnas win our hearts by quickly setting up their gear onstage and then letting it sit there for at least a good half-hour because their manager demanded their set not start until 9:15 p.m.—an idiotic attempt to build anticipation that cut into the Siren Six!'s and Jejune's time. These incorrigible wankers also brought along something like 2,000 spare guitars, even though none of them switched axes once during their set, as far as we could tell (God forbid they dribble sweat on their pick guards).
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So it finally came time for them to play, and we got just what we expected—an overblown, corporate-to-the-hilt band of Matchbox 20 impersonators (which kinda says it all, really), farting out songs that sounded like they belonged on the soundtracks of lame teenage movies (and we drew that conclusion waybefore we found out they have a cut on the soundtrack of The Faculty). They were clearly some suit's idea of "what the kids want": air leaping that attempted to make the music seem more exciting and involving than it really was, guitar players walking on the tops of walls, singers playfully deep-throating microphones—all that hapless, clichd stuff. Neve, people, is a fitting example of what happens when you let producers, marketers, managers, publicists and record-company dweebs hijack your band (partly because youwanted to be a rock star so badly), for we just can'tbelieve these guys grew up with dreams of playing this kind of aural rubbish. But worst of all, they made the normally unpretentious Chain Reaction feel like a horrid Sunset Strip club. Hopefully, the stink they left behind will have dissipated by our next visit.
The Siren Six! (who, oddly, didn't look anythinglike that photo we ran of them in the Weekly a fortnight ago) were much better, a spunky, boisterous, recovering ska outfit who sounded like they're going for something resembling emonow, only a lot happier. They ditched their horn tooter (which is why they're really the Siren Five!), but the brass still exists, albeit as a button on a keyboard. They had plenty of fluid, gracefully crunchy tunes, though at times they seemed like they're still struggling with what their next move willbe.
Better still were San Diego's Jejune, who pumped gallons of glowing, shimmery guitar-pop while their singer/bassist cooed sweetly and sighingly. Mellow? Yeah—but they didn't bore. Deep? Sure—but their heads weren't tooswollen. And we liked that they could be all drony and hypnotic one minute while flipping over into a cranked-up, old-school, heavy-metal lick-machine the next—like Judas Priest, or Slade, even. We really wanted to hear more of Jejune by the time they ended, but it was all Neve's fault. May their sick, sad selves be damned to play Woodschlock '04.
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