Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the Reatarded: Jay Reatard, Tokyo Electron, the Lamps and the Guilty Hearts @ the Scene January 18, 2007

When did the black leather studded belt, so ferociously worn by young punks decades ago, become a fashion statement slung on the hips of a young blonde possibly with Hot Topic tags still on the floor of her car? Going to the Scene bar amuses me sometimes. Such was the case at the Scene on January 18th, the night of the Jay Reatard show.

This show was amusing and yet sad at the same time. However, my original rant from which this post was spawning has thankfully been given some rest time and will not be as harsh as originally planned. Let me explain if you will…

Four bands played tonight: The Guilty Hearts (I’m almost positive this was the name of the first band- only because another band was going to play and then couldn’t and I can’t be held responsible for remembering these things), the Lamps, Tokyo Electron, and Jay Reatard. The first band had a decent performance, but I will admit to losing attention and wandering off. But, I would give them a second listen to because they did have some elements of garage that I like.

The second band, the Lamps, I thought would be great due to the hype of their following here in Los Angeles. When one speaks of garage music and L.A., inevitably everyone mentions this band. But why? There are singers who have weird voices and that is what makes them, but then there are those that are just not good. I could not listen to this band because I could not stand his voice. And unfortunately the music just was not there for me either. Sigh. I thought to myself that the scene is doomed if people were going to be hyped for this, but thankfully I was able to catch another band (The Ettes) shortly after this show that challenged the dull constant drone that I thought the scene around here was to become. [They’ll get a decent write up in one of the 2 shows I’ve caught them at recently. Soon, I promise.]

Tokyo Electron was third. They make more of the faster tempo punk-garage music that was a good lead into the Jay Reatard set. They were satisfying. I’m not going to rant on about them because they came, did an awesome job and convinced me that I need to go buy some of their records.

Jay Reatard stole the show, although, I guess if you are headlining then it IS your show, but whatever, you get my point. Loud, fast and cussing through spit, he sped his way through many of the songs off his newest album, Blood Visions- opening with the song of the same name. The set was relatively short but packed so much into so short a time that it was almost exhausting.

If there was one thing I’d like to do after seeing this show, it would be to kidnap a good number of the garage bands coming out of Memphis and stick them here in LA. Once can only hope that this influence will spread here, and quickly.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Shut Up and Rock! The Fucking Champs @ Spaceland, January 13, 2007

Interspersed between the usual crowd of young hipsters at Spaceland Saturday night loomed patches of another type of audience: black jeans, long hair, wait! Was that an Iron Maiden t-shirt? Very rarely do the metal kids come together alongside their polar opposites, the hip kids, to enjoy a band. At least not without a possible fight or two. But this was not the case as one of the strangest varieties of audience members, and performers piled into Spaceland Saturday January 13.

And who were they all waiting to see? Well according to the L.A. Times it was the opening band, Citay, but really, it was in fact, The Fucking Champs.

Being the excellent reporting person that I am, I not only did NOT read said Times article, I am stating this purely on hearsay. Citay, for an opening band, was not bad. They would probably have been better if there charming folky pop songs sung by several men and women in harmony complete with flute, keys, tambourines, and several other band members had been followed by several other bands with similar tastes in music. But opening for semi-instrumental metal music bands? Who decided to book them?

This odd choice on behalf of the booking people subsequently led me to go sit in the other room at Spaceland pretty much till the Fucking Champs took the stage. My ears would need the rest considering the sheer volume that was to be put out by the main band.

Three nondescript guys take the stage. They possibly could have been your stoner friends in college, or now perform in some kind of jazz fusion ensemble; anything but the sounds that were about to come out from the amplifiers. The sounds are loud and harsh. The kind of sweaty rock that, being a girl, should intimidate me, and yet I find myself quite compelled to stare and watch.

One factor that separates T.F.C’s from your run of the mill metal band is their use of double lead guitars- no bass, no vocals, just two leads, and inspiration in part from Thin Lizzy, a known influence for them, which also makes me appreciate them even more.

There is no point trying to recall names of songs- they do stop and start, change tempo, change key, but other than the two songs that actually do have lyrics (Extra Man and Some Swords) The Fucking Champs’ simply throw out a tornado of sound that you need to just take in and try not to let your ear drums burst. The structures of the songs though seem very calculated. It might have to do with the very little moving on their part during the show. Or, perhaps they are able to simplify such complex tunes by looking like it is nothing to them. They simply flick their wrists- and out comes rock.