Another faithful night at L’Keg beckoned me. First up was the Inland Empire’s own Shark Toys, who have made the switch from two piece to four since they last graced the pages of this glorious rag. Their attack on their set rings true, brought forth by lead Danny, who, with a vacant stare, cries out to the chorus during their opening number, “There’s somewhere I want to be but it’s definitely not here,” a declaration to and from all suburbanites who vacate the outer echelons of places such as our own great city. Shark Toys tends to defy any type of decade, testified by their cover of the Tronics’ “Crush on You,” with warbly attentiveness and youth-like tendencies. The band channeled the proto-punk gods—wildly yielding their instruments, Danny (guitar), Kyle (bass), and recent addition Matt (drums) provide the perfect yin to the yang of keyboardist Rena’s cool meditative state. It’s almost as if she is harnessing all of their creative energy to output her own. The dynamic between Danny and Rena while on stage together is like watching a younger version of John Doe and Exene, even sounding like them as they trade off vocal responsibilities during duets. The group’s jumpy raucousness presents the perfect kiss off to summer.
Shark Toys were followed by San Diego’s Christmas Island, whose brand of gangly sounding ode to rock-ism pays proper dues to its garage roots and admits a traditional California sound. The band’s guitar driven riffage transmorphs into a proper bit of mellowness, taking a robust sound and making it a deep groove. It’s lo-fi, but it’s not, in the sense that C.I.’s sounds tend to pre-date themselves without relying so much on effects but rather taking a more minimalist approach to song composition, such as on “I Don’t Care” and “Doin Swell.” I found myself dancing to the drums provided by drummer Lucy, who hits all the right toe-tapping beats. Her exploits occur while singer Brian’s vocal pattern takes you on a heartfelt journey through tone and force. That aspect followed by Craig’s blues-tinged guitar bits create an acute sense of wonderful joyousness, putting a smile on the face of every band member as well the audience. The beautiful bouts that make up the interludes create a perfect sounding music to skateboard down a pier with on an old school board—the clay wheels pop and drop below your feet on the sun-drenched wood.