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Things Start Moving!

Photo by Matt OttoFU MANCHU

Some would claim that Fu Manchu haven't been the same since Scott Hill cut his long Jeff Spicoli-esque locks, but we will not have any of it. A good decade-plus on, this greatest San Clemente band ever (and certainly one of OC's most severely underrated) can still come at you with some serious, skull-fracturing volume, so overpowering that they've literally shaken the dust out of the ceiling rafters, an incident we fondly recall witnessing from them one year at South By Southwest. The Fu, of course, capture a perfect contemporary symbiosis of fuzzed-out '70s metal, made all that much more invigorating in a small club gig like this. We could've done without the lame devil horns people near the front were throwing, as well as the pogoing drunks who, we hoped, would gash their heads on the spotlights (which may have indeed happened, as Hill warned of broken glass at the stage lip). As long as we've been into the Fu, they've always deserved more respect than these cheap gestures. Their huge Marshall amps did all their talking. By the time they hit "Boogie Van," we could discern two distinct crowd makeups: people so fearful of permanent hearing damage that they wound up against the back wall with cocktail napkins stuffed inside their ears; and the up-close masochists for whom Fu Manchu just don't play loud enough(we removed our plugs for our fave tune, "King of the Road," but quickly re-inserted them when the last power-chord crunch was delivered). The night was a perfect mix of songs old and new—of the new, "Hung Out to Dry" stood out most—and there was even a guest slot from the Adolescents' Tony Cadena, who sang "Things Start Moving" backed by the Fu, a version that was more Sabbath-y than his older band could've ever produced. Afterward, Hill was gushing: "I seriously doubt our band would exist if it wasn't for the Adolescents. The highlight of this band's career, right there." Naturally—the Adolescents arethe Greatest OC Band Ever, as this rag once declared. But on this night, Fu Manchu sure felt like second-greatest ever.


Apparently there are still clueless straight boys in this world who have no idea that Erasure's Andy Bell is G-A-Y. You could've glimpsed at least one at this show, holding his girlfriend by the arm (breeder chicks, they looovesthe Erasure!), then uncomfortably shifting in place, beads of sweat forming on his brow, as the curtain dropped and Bell stood there, cooing the opening number bedecked in a forest fairy getup, with long, flowing wings jutting from his back. As one club anthem segued into another ("Drama," "Stop!," "Chains of Love," "Chorus," "Oh L'Amour"—sue us, we only know the hits; the new album Nightbird,though, is a morose, ballad-laden bore), we watched as this couple's male half squirmed the more, er, "outgoing" Bell got, pirouetting, prancing, and camping it up in red Elvis suits or clothed in nothing but a tight blue, sparkly bikini bottom and a pair of hot-pink feather fans. The look on boyfriend's face screamed, "My god, those people on stage are ho-mo-seck-shuls. . ." followed seconds later by an even wider-eyed, panicked expression that read ". . . thatmustmeanallthesemenstandingaroundmeareho-mo-seck-shulstoo!"He seemed to hold his woman tighter as the gig went on, and by the end, we're sure he abandoned her altogether for the safety of their car in the Grove parking lot, where he could lock himself inside so no one could ogle his not-so-hot ass. His left-behind girl, though, had a great time. This was a big ol' dance party, even if Bell is showing his age these days with his baggy eyes and slight paunch; he didn't care, content with tossing off just enough hits to send people home happy—the songs that got many a late-'80s queerboy through high school without killing himself. And Bell can still hit his falsetto, without any tech help (that we could tell) from the eternally stone-faced Vince Clarke and his synth. Even homophobes—had they stuck around—would've had a blast.


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