Yes, we're happy to cover a benefit for multiple
sclerosis research, and yes, we enjoyed the show, whose bill was as diverse as OC music
itself. We're glad that a sizable crowd attended, and that business
seemed brisk at the concession counter selling horchata and cupcake balls for
But the real draw was
the rubbernecking curiosity we have about Fountain
Valley quartet Stereofix,
which may just be Orange County's most baffling band.
the tightly coiled, Muse-like rockers the Relative Strangers took
to the stage. “Come on, you fucking hipsters, clap!” was the order
from the front man for Beta Wolf, the nu-hair-metal act that
followed the Strangers. The moment probably marked the point when most of the
fucking hipsters had left, having gotten to see their portion of the undercard:
the intimate twee of I Hate You Just Kidding and the
propulsive, earnest anthems of We Are the Pilots.
Stereofix draws a different fan base, which is why they're sort of fascinating. At the Gypsy Lounge in February, their showcase ranked as one of the
weird highlights of the Orange
County Music Awards season:
They crammed the place with chicks in low-cut baby doll outfits and boasted a
contingent of dudes that belted out the words to the songs while donning doe
eyes that reminds this writer of the awesomeness that was seeing Linkin Park at
In this day in age, in this music scene, Stereofix's non-ironic use of
eyeliner, bull-horns and smoke machines is hilarious–I've heard them referred to as “totally cheesy”–but, for that very reason,
gutsy. No influence is hidden. Cherub-faced singer Ray Alexander has deep lungs and a broad, familiar
voice that ranges from sounding like the Killers' Brandon Flowers to sounding
like Bono, which is to say it doesn't range very far. That description applies to the rest
of the band as well, from the Edge-aping guitar effects to the vaguely disco
choruses to the way that nearly every song opens with moody keyboard samples
before dropping into a thudding, KROQ-ready groove.
before, the second half of Stereofix's set saw a devoted clan of about 30 pressed close
to the stage, bobbing heads and pumping fists.
air, you can imagine it looked an arena from Alexander's point of view. He's
part of the reason that this band is so strange to the uninitiated: He aims for the magnetism and energy of every world-dominating
front-man–twirling the mic chord, leaping out onto stacks in front of the
stage, falling to his knees during bridges–but, for my money, doesn't quite hit the mark.
Maybe it's his squirrely, Chris Kattan build, or maybe it's just his jumping
style. He tends to hop from his heels, looking a lot like a kid trying to catch
a glimpse of the other side of a fence.
show. But it was hard not to notice flashes of self-consciousness from them Friday night, suggesting that the band hasn't quite convinced themselves that they're doing more than playing dress-up. One example came when Alexander pulled the classic trick of coming down into
the audience to sing. We all know what that moment is supposed to feel like,
and for the people that surrounded him, perhaps it was as transcendent as Alexander wanted it to be. But before addressing the fans,
he turned his back to them, looked up to the spot on the stage where he'd been standing seconds before, and said, “I want to see what this looks like.” You got the sense he'd
been wondering all night.