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
CRACK (WE ARE ROCK), BRAD LANER, KID606, SEKSU ROBA
at the Derby, May 17
Crack (We Are Rock) charmed tonight's Gauloise-smoking fobs right out of their ennui-filled poses and onto the dance floor. Looking all of 12 years old in their matching white sleeveless gowns, Crack's leading ladies intoned fem-bot lyrics over keyboard riffs and drum machines "manned" by two faceless guys in back. I later asked the band if it was the droid-drones who composed the songs. "Oh, we're just front women -- we couldn't possibly have written any of the music." Never expect a straight answer from a San Francisco band.
Schlubbily dressed in everyday jeans and button-down shirt, Electric Company's Brad Laner layered reams of texture into grating-lovely-intriguing things. One of L.A.'s more far-reaching noise/sound/rock weirdos, Laner seems to take a lot of cues from television, as vaguely familiar theme songs and scores got clusterfucked every which way but loose -- just don't call it "explorations in pure sound" or collage or shit like that, 'cause there was definitely a narrative at work here. This assertion was later confirmed with sober fans, so you know it's not the Dextromathorphan talking.
There's a new paradigm for entertainers: Stand still, like a post, and avoid eye contact with the audience. Sounds dull? We defy you not to become transfixed by San Diego's Kid606 (22-year-old Miguel Depedro), the most accomplished digital-punk in the U.S. With face aglow from his dual PowerBooks, Depedro soon developed rosy medallions on his cheeks, giving 110 percent to a drill & bass-gabber-techstep onslaught cut with enough cheese-pop to keep the mix humorous and grooving. Feeling us out before launching into the encore, he asked, "Hard stuff? Soft stuff?" This kid may be more programmer than rock star, but at the end of the day even laptop-geeks are crowd pleasers.
Kevin Lee, a.k.a. Seksu Roba, does the bachelor-pad thing as well as any keen disciple of Esquivel, but this Crippled Dick recording artist invests his fluffly lounge chic with hip-swiveling heft. Tonight he got sci-fi on us with woozy theremin while sidekick Lunna Menoh -- in a satin majorette's leotard -- spun a mean baton. To play percussion, Lee even brought aboard a pneumatically controlled tin man (!). It was no Neil Peart, but it easily kept better time than those animatronic players at Chucky Cheez.
"Dude, it's not about how good you play, it's about how good you look," sneered sweat-drenched, poodle-headed Michael Diamond, lead singer for the Viper Room's Monday-night house band Metal Shop (also known as Danger Kitty from those credit-card commercials), as he twirled his locks and puckered his lips into a perfect Poison pose. The concept of an '80s metal cover band ain't exactly novel, but these guys' well-honed shtick, not to mention their ability to sound exactly like everyone from Motley Crue to Warrant to the Scorpions, has made them the undisputed kings of copycat camp.
And lately, the line between parody and real rawk has blurred. The boys may wear ghastly wigs and primp with Aqua Net, but they've also been attracting the likes of Steven Tyler and Ratt's Steven Pearcy for impromptu jams, while celebs from Gene Simmons to Drew Barrymore and the Strokes have been dropping by. This night, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith joined Metal Shop for a spanking version of "You Really Got Me" (Van Halen's version, of course), followed by a pummeling solo. Speaking of solos, guitarist Rachette does the obligatory ax-dance so right-on -- selfishly lengthy and bursting with masturbatory nuances -- that any arena attendee who made devil hand signs or lit a Bic back in the '80s will surely fall victim to flashbacks. The other members -- bassist Ginger Roxx and "Drummer No. 26" (in a Spinal Tap twist, these guys truly can't keep a skinsman) -- are equally accomplished players and actors. Metal Shop's hilarious medley about Whitesnake kicked off with "Here I Go Again," with Diamond ranting about how everybody rips off metal, then proving it by singing Styx's "Come Sail Away," Steve Miller's "The Joker," Sugar Ray's "Fly," Smash Mouth's "All-Star" and Weezer's "Sweater Song" over the same chord progression. Never mind that a couple of those tunes came before the Whitesnake "model."
Makeup and big hair may be a thing of the past, but power and attitude still rule, dude. (Lina Lecaro)
Shankar . . .
Microtones aren't always in the ear of the perceiver, as this Microfest concert of "Asian Tunings" demonstrated. When I asked micromalletman Kraig Grady (another late arrival skulking in the museum's statue-ornamented, koi-inhabited garden performance space) why I wasn't hearing many notes that sounded strange, he said I might be used to the slight flatnesses and sharpnesses of traditional Eastern scales on their native instruments; if I heard them on sax they'd probably sound out of tune.
Sitarist Paul Livingstone's speed was more what tricked the ear; when he clawed way up the neck and started blazing away, you had to think of Jimmy Page. Asked later where the harsh clusters that accented his playing came from, he said they arose from his instrument's sympathetic strings when he slapped the body. Despite its intensity, Livingstone's approach was more intellectual than that of tabla drummer Abhiman Kaushal, whose throbbing push balanced Livingstone throughout their original raga -- they took turns shredding, except when they locked into a simple, controlled groove toward the end. The drones of the gently smiling sarangi player, Courtney DuCaine, held the two together like a web.