Saturday, April 14, 2007

Los Straitjackets al RESCATE! Safari Sam's 1 Year Anniversary Show Friday, April 13, 2007

There were plenty of good shows around LA last night. Ted Leo was at the El Rey, Kelley Stoltz & Essex Green were playing at Spaceland, and Peter and the Wolf was over at Pehrspace. But did any of these fine musicians dress up in Lucha Libre masks and perform synchronized guitar thrusts? NO? Well Los Straitjackets did.

Oddly, KCRW sponsored the event at Safari Sam's. I don't remember ever turning to that station and hearing a Rockabilly song, ever. But whatever, it was mildly amusing to see among the greaser kids shockingly out of place late-40's type men sporting bald-on-top-ponytails and women who I swear were working the info desk last time I was at the library. I guess when KCRW's name is on an event people don't even bother finding out what they are going to. I'm not trying to sound mean if that's what you're thinking. Stop thinking that.

Opening for Los Straitjackets were Gamblers Mark and Devil Doll. Gamblers Mark I've seen before, I believe playing with some local psychobilly bands, and are pretty standard Rockabilly music. They got the hair, the instruments and the music all going for them. You can move to the music if that's your thing, but again, pretty standard. Devil Doll is in that genre of Rockabilly bands that have a 'cute' chick singing and trying to be sexy to distract from the mediocre music. They ended with a cover of Radar Love that attempted to pull the crowd in, but made me keep eyeing the door for a possible escape route. I will admit though that I went to the show incredibly sick and started off in a crappy mood, so...

How often do the Los Straitjackets tour? I was pretty sure I had lost my chance forever to see them, but they just released a new album "Rock En Espanol" which has Big Sandy, Cesar Rosas, and Little Willie G performing with the masked foursome, so, YAY! I got a chance to see them.

The 4 themselves are an instrumental band and they opened their show that way, all in black suites, matching glittery gold guitars, and donning their Mexican wrestling masks. Part of their appeal, to me at least, is the kitsch gimmick they have going for them, it's entertaining. Every song they play has its own choreographed dance numbers; nothing elaborate, but they do thrust their guitars up at the same time and twist around and stuff. And if you're into surfer type guitars and beats, then you can't go wrong here. Even for being in a genre where the music tends to blend into other artists, there is some discernible characteristic that even without vocals you can pick up on.

However, their new album has vocals, so, tonight there were a few vocal sets. Big Sandy was the first. God, he is such a cheeseball. Prior to the set, his was standing behind me on the floor and being mauled by young Rockabilly chicks who wanted to get their picture taken with him. There is something reminiscent of a car salesman about him. Anyways, his set started off alright until he seemed to be either forgetting the lyrics or having a heart attack. I couldn't take my eyes off him because I was sure he might fall off the stage clutching his chest. Then he sang the Sonics 'Have Love Will Travel' half in Spanish and half in English, oof- I actually cringed. Luckily there was a brief period of going back to instrumentals before Cesar Rosas went on.

I think tonight I learned that I shouldn't go to shows while sick and heavily dosed on decongestant meds, it makes me irritable and easily dismissive of acts. Regardless, seeing Los Straitjackets live is a grinningly good time and is making me reconsider wearing a mask when I drum, maybe a giant gorilla head. I dunno.

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