Photo by Jeanne Rice
Zeke/The Ruby Doe
Alex's Bar, Long Beach
Saturday, Nov. 22 Since when did Nazis start liking hesher music? Perhaps if you play fast enough, then the shit—er, skinheads will come. This seemed to be the lesson of the night until the Alex's Bar staff managed to escort a contingent of Orange County Aryan Annoyance Brigade dickheads out of the club without so much as a punch thrown.
Entertaining as this was, it wasn't what we came for. Instead, we arrived in time to witness the penultimate set of the night from Seattle's Ruby Doe—scruffy, That '70s Show extras playing a Fugazi-style post-rock version of punk, but managing to be less post and more rock. The loose-groove/gnarled-out approach to the old hardcore was a sonic surprise for what was essentially a dirtball show, but it proved to be a nice change of pace.
Next the punkers (well, punk as played by metalheads lost and wandering the Ozarks since 1987) of Zeke arrived. Back at Alex's for the second time since yet another in a long series of breakups, the 2003 model Zeke is a sleek trio, which may partly explain why the band primarily stuck to songs from their first three albums, necessitated by the loss of longtime second guitarist Abe Zanuel "Sonny" Riggs III. But lead guitarist/shrieker/songwriter Blind Marky Felchtone proved more than adequate, scowling his way through such standards as "West Seattle Acid Party" and "302 Cubic Inch V8 Powered Blues." The band was tighter and more energized than earlier this year at Alex's, and the evening's only negative came courtesy of the aforementioned white power-spouting peckerwoods. While a capacity crowd packed the place, about five heavily-muscled oafs decided to create a violent mosh spectacle halfway through Zeke's set. The band was asked to stop as the bar staff dealt with the offending parties in about as professional and diplomatic a manner as possible. Although the five-minute break made the rest of the crowd antsy, as soon as the Meat Patrol's money could be returned to them, they were ushered out the door. (Hey, tough guys: save that shit for your weekly Huntington Beach circle jerk.) Zeke eventually resumed and managed not to miss a seemingly amphetamine-enhanced beat. (Rex Reason)
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The Forces Of Evil/Mudbath
House Of Blues, Anaheim
Saturday, Nov. 29
Here's a real sister-kisser: two halfway decent, rising, original local bands opening for two-hit-wonders-two-decades-ago Bow Wow Wow, whose only attraction this night was that No Doubt's Adrian Young was playing drums. So it was an audience primarily made up of two factions: lots of round, balding, 35-year-old men who fondly remembered wanking to videos of Bow Wow Wow's then-teenaged Annabella Lwin circa 1983; and scary, frothy No Doubt completists who'll buy everything involving their fave act, no matter how mundane.
There was too much of a nostalgia flavor for us to possibly be interested in staying for the headliner—you wouldn't catch us at a Berlin show, either—but we did want to glimpse the all-girl experience of Mudbath, who are still as fine and good as when we first caught them nearly two years ago. They're a dandy rock & roll band, with a singer who can seamlessly switch octaves, plunging from the lofty heights most chick rock singers we've heard insist on dwelling in into a deep, throaty, growly husk (though she had a tendency this evening to come off like a Gwenabee, especially during their sound-alike No Doubt cover of the Vandals' "Oi to the World"). They have verses that burst open into indomitably catchy, sweeping choruses, and we liked their overall livid 'tude with songs that declared "kiss my ass!" and "son of a bitch!," and the one called "I'm Not Upset," which of course is code for "I'm Really, Really Fucking Nutjob Maximum PMS-ing Pissed!"
Also seething with rage were the Forces of Evil, a retro-third-wave ska band made up of old Jeffries Fan Club and Scholars members, and helmed by Reel Big Fish's Aaron Barrett (disguised, badly, in an armor of dark shades, denim jacket and stringy, ponytailed hair—dude, Foghat rules!). Most old '90s OC ska bands have either broken up or gone emo, but Forces of Evil aren't exactly a throwback to a happier, peppier era. Sure, they had four guys wielding horns, but their subject matter runs even darker than Barrett's familiar Reel Big cynicism. So we had such nuggets as "Angry Anthem," the entire repetitive chorus consisting of "Fuck all you motherfuckers, fuck you!" and songs about stupid ho's and the shittiest day in your life and killing yourself to stop the pain—fun! Even the warning label on their recently reissued Friend Or FOE CD had to be goosed up with STRONG LANGUAGE and VIOLENT CONTENT pronouncements, which is kind of cool. And they earned extra credit this night by covering "Dance the Night Away," our favorite Van Halen song. (Rich Kane)