By: Joseph Lapin
The Jacuzzi Boys were supposed to land in Southern California on Tuesday to play a show at Burger Records, but due to a booking fiasco–they scheduled their flight for Aug, 31 instead of July, 31–they landed at LAX on Wednesday. For a moment, it appeared the Miami-based band were going to be MIA. Even on their rescheduled flight, their plane made an emergency landing in Tucson. In the end, SoCal fans lucked out– the indie pop trio were able to rock the boat at the Queen Mary last night before they left the states for their second European tour.
On the Verandah Deck of the Queen Mary, the Jacuzzi Boys took the stage on the historic cruise ship, overlooking the glowing horizon of Long Beach, the hazardous lights from the port and the mysterious islands off the shore. The moon was full, and the ocean stretched for miles, creating a titanic atmosphere for a rock show. As soon as vocalist/lead guitarist Gabriel Alcala started moaning into the microphone and beckoning the crowd to leave the free gin and vodka bars, it almost sounded like we were listening to the Sex Pistols on their jubilee boat trip.
The Jacuzzi Boys' natural southern habitat shares a lot of similarities to Southern California: beautiful people, unbelievable views and summer basically all-year round. And you can hear echoes of South Florida and SoCal in their sound–straightforward rock infused with sunshine and melodies a la Best Coast.
But there is a distortion, a uniqueness that sounds almost purely Miami, in the Jacuzzi Boys' music. It's a darkness, an almost Velvet-Underground threat of danger that makes the listener believe that at any moment the punk riffs and syrupy melodies are about to collapse into chaotic distortion. And they play with this type of energy on the stage. Alcala's guitar style is a lot of repetitive power chords that sometimes lash out into Tom Morello like spasms of cacophony. It gives the show an edgy quality. As if at any moment, Alcala is about to bite the head off the microphone and spit back out a bat's head. (Don't forget, this is the band with an “unofficial” music video, featuring lip-synching vaginas.)
As the Jacuzzi Boys show built momentum, the crowd started to capture the South Floridian's energy. Girls with green hair, a woman with the map of the world tattooed on her back and other hipsters danced on the metal bleachers. Diego Monasterios kept the rhythm pulsating on the drums; Danny Gonzalez made you feel the bass in your gut; and Alcala's magnetic stage presence kept the audience glued to his every moment. On stage, he could have done anything he wanted. He could have burped into the microphone and it would have been cool. At one point, he started imitating an orgasm into the microphone – almost a tribute to the breakdown in Led Zeppelin's, “Whole Lotta Love.”
In between songs, there was no banter. No comedy act. No promotion. Just seamless transitions into new songs. Every once in a while, Alcala did manage to provide some incite into his lyrics: “This next song is about baseball,” “This Next song is about death,” and “This next song is about the L.A. riots.” Well, this over-simplified and matter-of-fact punk rock approach was what the audience loved about the Jacuzzi Boys. They came to Long Beach to play some songs, make some people dance and then leave. Well, at least we would hope someone booked their return flight.
Critical Bias: I lived in Miami before moving to Los Angeles, and I would often head over to the Jacuzzi Boys' shows at Churchill's.
The Crowd: Hipsters were looking to dance, and every girl seemed to be wearing a polka-dot skirt. Plus, there was this one dude who kept falling all over himself and spilling beer as he tried to breakdance on the metal bleachers.
Overheard: “The one thing my step dad taught me was to always wash my hands before I went to the bathroom.”
Random Notebook Dump: The Long Beach horizon in the background looks like the graphics in car-racing video games.