By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Even as he emerged from Jeff's shadow with a brace of catchy, irony-free new songs -- built on groovy "Taxman"-like, octave-tolling bass riffs and melodic keening shrouded in Nirvanaesque layers of distortion -- Steven acknowledged his brother's influence and his old band's legacy directly. The SMG opened with "Frosted Flake" and rumbled through three other Redd Kross tunes, including the wistful hot-rod fantasy "SoCal V8." At one point, Steven, who seemed genuinely surprised by the crowd's affection, confessed that he was probably talking too much between songs, adding that Jeff had warned him "to keep the mystery." The band mysteriously and mystically closed the show with a giddy reclamation of Stone Temple Pilots' Redd Kross sound-alike "Big Bang Baby," which McDonald introduced as "me channeling Scott Weiland channeling my brother." (Falling James)
DEADSY at the Dragonfly, April 12 Photo by Nicole Rosenthal
Can a band be so cartoonishly '80s it's revolutionary? Deadsy seem to think so. There are a lot of neonew wavers and synth-pop revivalists out there, and Deadsy are hugely indebted to the likes of Gary Numan and Berlin. The difference between this band and its smirking counterparts is an unflinching devotion to a cryptic cultural cause: kicking out sci-fi escapist cult-of-prep-school jams with the body-rocking ferocity of death-metal hellions.
The Dragonfly scene was a Felliniesque spectacle, with Mardi Gras beads and harlequin masks handed out at the door to a riot of club kids, Eurotrash, cornrowed wiggers and Sunset Strip losers, peppered with stilt-walkers, candy girls and celebs (Drew Barrymore resplendent in a taupe beret). Due to space limitations, keyboardist Dr. Nner had to fish-scale his Rolands at 45 degrees forward, forcing him to sprawl over them in Phantom of the Opera posture; Creature wielded his bass as foam-rubber saliva bungee-jumped off his chin; Lacoste-clad drummer Alex Püre flayed his Neoprene sound pads. But the voguing high point was when front man P Exeter Blue I (a.k.a. Elijah Blue) and guitarist Carlton Megalodon back-buttressed each other for the solo in Rush's "Tom Sawyer," much to the delight of the gum-smacking teenyboppers, already thrilled with the pair's Adonis looks.
After auspicious beginnings, the evening was marred by electrical snafus. "Fuck these technical difficulties," screamed Blue, "we're gonna do this shit without power," then launched into a quasi-acoustic version of "Mansion World." When the PA went kaput again, Blue and Dr. Nner said nothing, raising their arms in classic what-the-fuck gestures. Never mind the cosmic injustice of their Commencement's five-year abeyance -- even on their hipster-filled home turf, Deadsy can't get a break. (Andrew Lentz)
DROWNING POOL at the Palace, April 11
The bruising Dallas quartet Drowning Pool -- the surprise package of last year's Ozzfest -- are more deeply steeped in metal's heritage than your average angst-rock outfit: Their platinum debut disc, Sinner, skillfully walks the line between commercialism and credibility, while their live show aims to fuse contemporary sonic pummeling with the user-friendly showmanship of '80s arena acts. Yet while their music longs to be dark and meaningful, they've descended onstage into a road-jaded lowest common denominator of volume, cursing and attempted crowd pleasing.
From the moment Drowning Pool struck up, all semblance of savagery, dynamics and melody was lost in an overcooked soup of superdelayed vocals, heavy-for-the-sake-of-heaviness instrumentation and the Palace's uncooperative acoustics. A strangely subdued audience flailed a few arms in the air and -- with repeated encouragement from lumbering front man Dave Williams -- coalesced for a vaguely respectable mosh pit. Sinner's title track and the Wrestlemania theme tune "Tear Away" peeped above the churning mire, but the formula of Williams' sustained lamenting syllables over chugging, looping verse riffs soon overstayed its welcome. From the ludicrous quantities of speaker stacks to a bass solo evoking Spinal Tap's free-jazz experiment, Drowning Pool pumped charmingly unpretentious man-metal, but their material was as plain as their uncluttered stage setup. Only guitarist CJ Pierce retained any spring in his stride, his tandoori-flavored six-string interlude the night's unlikely highlight.
At set's close, the crowd's chant was "'Bodies'!" (the radio hit) rather than the group's name -- a classic case of song overshadowing band. (Paul Rogers)
BONNIE "PRINCE" BILLY at the Troubadour, April 16 Bonnie Billy/Will OldhamPhoto by Daniel Corrigan
Near the end of his marathon encore, Bonnie "Prince" Billy grinned and teased the crowd: "You can go home if you want." Leaving was an obvious option -- the band had been on for two hours already, drilling holes into our hearts with a mix of melodramatic circus act ("Barcelona"), evangelistic ranting ("King of Sorrow" -- yes, the one by Sade) and frigid horror ("I See a Darkness") -- but one that virtually nobody took advantage of. Instead, someone yelped out hoarsely, "You guys are like the fucking Band, man."
Were we guests at some late-night basement jam session that got infused by ghostly spirits? Bonnie Billy's rumpled hippie band just played and played, as he continually conjured up Robert Johnson despair through an existential Jerry Garcia delivery.
Like sometime recluses Leon Russell and Hasil Adkins, puffy-pigtail-bearded Will Oldham (a.k.a. Bonnie "Prince" Billy) transforms into a dynamic showman onstage, his plain-guy shtick colliding head-on with his progressive American songbook. With his David Grismanesqe imagery and God-fearin' non-attitude, one would think Oldham was performing old spirituals or standards. But exceptionally heavy subject matter -- incest, murder, redemption, listless defeat -- is a specialty of this Kentuckian child prodigy.