Unlike me, the Zig Zags had not forgotten my review of their recent single. “You hated the B-Side!” one of their taller members told me in a slightly uncomfortable back porch conversation. No, I didn’t hate it, I said … well, maybe I said some pretty mean things, but luckily the dudes were pretty cool about it—and hey, I still love the A-side, “Scavenger,” which they ended their set with. It’s nearly impossible not to pump your fist and bang your head to; even though I was more or less the only one doing this, I think it’s because the audience was maybe 70% dudes, all ghastly afraid that if they showed any emotions, the chicks who already weren’t going to sleep with them tonight would be even MORE adamant about not sleeping with them.
Stab City was up next, and though this band’s harsh brutality is steeped deep down in having a good time, Dan Catalinotto’s voice, which usually has a bit of the Jon Spencer to it, this night had moments of utter frustration and pain, perhaps unintentional. “I just got injured,” he announced after a song or two. “So I feel like someone is constantly kicking me in the balls.”
That’s a bit the way Stab City feels—and I mean that literally, as their music pummels the room’s air into you in a way that would make Slade proud. Drummer Bobby Vega kept the beat so powerful and bombastic that he was even bappin’ the rim of his floor toms for NO audible reason in the middle of the maelstrom, yet somehow it made sense. Yet there was a strong melody to some of the songs, mostly coming from Narwhal Party’s Kyle Souza on guitar, who whacked out some weird Lebanese-scale weirdness that evoked a young Keith Levine of PiL.
Broncho was made up of fellow Okies, and I wanted to give them some unapologetic Sooner State love! Yet I think they’re the type of live show that requires you hear the album before you hear the songs performed live—without a reference to the lyrics or any knowledge of why they kept singing “psychiatrist” over and over again, I was a babe in the woods throughout the whole set. It was probably hard to play tight, snappy Brit-punk infused pop in a set with such major monsters of noise, but if so, they didn’t seem to care.
Oh my my, and then it was time for the Shrine. It’s hard to convey the energy of these cats. And really, what can be said about this band that hasn’t already been expressed by the dude who started the Kony 2012 thing when he was running in the street naked screaming and babbling and fake-humping the world? I mean, sure, haters will make fun, but there’s nothing wrong with having a smashing, illicit time and causing a ruckus if it makes the world a better place. If the Shrine guys had actually gotten naked on stage, that would have been even better, and not just because we could have seen the Bootleg’s craftsman beer selections trickling down the naked torsos of some of Santa Monica’s finest as those of us in front did the whole “rap-video-oh-my-god-let’s-spray-expensive-booze-on-someone” thing: it would have proven that, like Steppenwolf always wanted for us, the Shrine was a true nature’s child. As it was, they may not have been born to be wild, but they sure did blow out my birthday candles.
Tonight the boys were in particularly good form, my favorite part being the falsetto that Josh Landau let out—after rigorous touring around SXSW and a lot of beers and skate pools in between, it looks like the young man hasn’t lost his vocal range (there’s a pun in there about “skating his pipes” but I’m too mature to go there). There’s always a manic gleam in their eyes, the kind of look that says “We’re having tons of fun, and we have no fear at all that you love watching us much as we love being here!” It’s not a smug look, but they know. They know. This band is going places. I just hope they don’t forget me when they’re booked into the Bellagio and are doing rails of boysenberry blow off the back of Lara Flynn Boyle.
-D. M. Collins