Your Knees on Asphalt

So we finally get around to exploring the new, improved, spiffier confines of the Doll Hut—it's Linda's no more, fun couple Blue and Anthony Castaneda having bought the slowly decaying roadhouse last fall from Linda Jemison—and we must say we like the room's spruced-up 'do tremendously. What with the framed Bettie Page/Don Garlits/Robert Mitchum memorabilia adorning the now sticker-free walls, the spacier digs (they removed the trophy case and the storage closet where they used to hide all the extra beer, so now you don't have to squeeze past people trying to open the restroom doors—which, by the way, are now outfitted with metal studs spelling out GUYS and DOLLS), the sparkly black popcorn ceiling, and an actual band stage (albeit one that's just a few inches off the ground, all the better to stumble drunkenly off of), the Hut feels preened and primed for a whole new life. Even the carpets are now 100 percent crust-free! Our only caveat: the place still reeks from the swaths of bordello-red paint they drowned the walls with during the remodel, which, combined with the somewhat dim lighting, left us with a certain disoriented feeling, and it wasn't only us—we witnessed several people accidentally (we think) bumping into the unfamiliar body parts of total strangers. But even this had its pluses—the fumes at least afforded us a cheap, unspectacular high.

The club's aura, though, is definitely geared toward the vintage-car cultists rather than the punk rockers. Roots rock and rockabilly bands pretty much have the run of the place on weekend nights, but on Thursdays, you can usually catch something alternative-leaning. That would certainly describe the four-piece all-girl riot of Mudbath, who liked mixing tweaked tempos, nifty little colors of melodic exotica and alluring, rockish whatnots into something that sounds like Gwen Stefani fronting Foxy, but in a not-half-bad way. We later investigated their website, www.mudbathband. com, where the four ladies describe themselves like so: "wicked jazz banshee, fretless bottom-feeder, rampant pummel princess and emanate stringstress of emotion." Less original was the name for their fans, "mud-puppies," which we always thought was an offensive term for breasts. Still, they were good and loud and muscular-looking.

Next were Scrimmage Heroes, whom we reviewed about two years ago and couldn't come up with the slightest thing to say about them, other than that they were just, y'know, a good band. Well, 24 months on finds them still a good band and still not one that conjures up many adjectives. What we can divulge is that their spazzy singer had a lovely, gravelly, two-pack-a-day voice; the music was lush and Strokes-like, kinda like the sound your knees would make if you could get them to scrape along asphalt in tune; and their guitar cases were covered with Sense Field stickers—if you can't slap them on the Doll Hut walls anymore, you may as well put 'em on something. But here are some simple, breathless blurbs they can use for their press pack, at least: "A high-energy five-piece!" "A wicked twin-guitar attack!" "A head-bobbin' good time!" Let's give Scrimmage Heroes another two years—maybe the verbiage will flow more easily.

Then 'twas the time for Dexter Romweber, who was mistakenly billed as his old band, the Flat Duo Jets. We used to know this snobbish, hoity-toity rock critic who once picked a Flat Duo Jets album as his album of the year, which is partly why we came out—we were intrigued. So were the lot of slick-haired, jeans-rolled-up-past-the-ankle retro purists who turned out (one guy was so mad for Dexter that he got thisclose to his face and snapped pictures during his set, the freak). Though the press release promised us an evening of furious, frenetic, twisted, wild-man energy, we instead found ol' Dex and his drummer (they were a duo, y'see) a rather tedious amalgam of the Reverend Horton Heat and Jon Spencer, tired pseudo-psychobilly all dressed-up and yuppified. Most of the crowd, who had starting cutting out during Scrimmage Heroes' set, seemed to agree, as we acquired copious, conspicuous amounts of extra elbow room. By the way, did we mention that Scrimmage Heroes are "a high-energy five-piece"?


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