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
|Photo by Gregory Bojorquez|
at House of Blues, June 28
With his transformation from heavy metal hellion to rap-rockin' b-boy, his much-talked-about video (s)exploits and that just plain embarrassing episode of MTV Cribs ("Yo yo, check this out!"), Tommy Lee is an easy target. Losing his girl to Kid Rock sure doesn't help. But despite it all, the tattooed tomcat manages to maintain a childlike enthusiasm that makes you wanna root for him. At least that was the case at the second of two packed shows at House of Blues last week.
Brimming with a diametrically diverse blend of bleached Pamela wannabes and homely former heshers who've probably stuck by him since the Motley years, the crowd actually appeared to be digging what the former Crue drummer was dishing. Focusing on material from his new release, Never a Dull Moment, Lee took center stage, all casual in a Fuct logo T-shirt and jeans, strumming his guitar and attempting to croon tunes that recalled Everlast one minute and White Zombie the next. "We love you, Tommy!" screamed two wiggling, jiggling mall rats behind us, in between gyrating to every song, even the slow ones. Interestingly, there were quite a few more languid numbers, such as the weary "Hold Me Down" and the melancholy "Blue" ("About my dad, man"). But just when we thought T-Lee might be mellowing, he stormed out with a raucous rap from his former group Methods of Mayhem and an even older-school rawk attack on "Shout at the Devil."
On the record, Lee is helped out vocally for a couple of numbers (Incubus' Brandon Boyd and Deftones Chino Moreno each guest on a tune), but on this night, no such luck. Some of the songs have real hit potential -- catchy choruses, grungy riffs -- but there's one unfortunate, extremely obvious problem that everyone (including the fans and Tommy himself) seems to have overlooked: The dude can't sing. Of course, that never stopped Vince Neil.
GARY WILSON, RILO KILEY, THE MOVIES at the Knitting Factory, June 29
If elevator music could be punk, it might sound like Rilo Kiley, and that's no backhanded compliment. The Los Angeles band owned tonight's crowd with its spunky mix of guitar heroics, '60s horn bleats and twee keyboards topped off with winner's-circle bonhomie. Guitarist/cofront man Blake Sennett could have called everyone's mom a whore, and they still would've cheered him, while vocalist Jenny Lewis was having way too much fun for a professional. The plucky pixie balanced her bright-eyed 'n' bushy-tailed exuberance with acid parlor wit: "This next one is a cover . . . of a Depeche Mode song, just kidding. Actually, it's a Spin Doctors song . . . just kidding."
While the Movies didn't offer the same level of showmanship, their droney bass-driven bliss-out definitely got under people's skin. There was a palpable sense of something different on the horizon -- mid-'80s art-funk? pop-prog? So that's what they mean by "power trio."
A common misperception is that Gary Wilson is a music-industry victim. In truth, he willingly disappeared, J.D. Salingerlike, after bursting onto the scene in 1977 with a limited poor-quality vinyl pressing of You Think You Really Know Me, and its recent reissue has brought the idiosyncratic performer to answer the call of his clamoring cult fan base. "I cannot believe he is not the headliner," a disgusted college-radio program director sputtered. During his set, the crowd's expressions were a mixture of amusement and uncertainty as a stage extra periodically came out to dash Wilson with flour while the singer writhed on the floor, serenading a pair of mannequins. But Wilson's performance-art weirdness is in striking juxtaposition with the glammy riot of his retro-contempo sound, a seductive mélange of '70s bar-band rock and Roxy Music disco thump, courtesy of a slammin' bass/drums section and interweaving noodle-poodle from three keyboardists, one of whom resembled the hookah-smoking caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland. Wilson oughtta get a lifetime-achievement award for his psychosexual head-fuck of a cabaret, but it was all a bit inpenetrable, and the 50-something enigma uttered not one word of acknowledgment to the audience. After an encore, one neophyte-convert fairly summed up the lingering vibe: "Spoo-keee." (Andrew Lentz)
at the Fold, June 27
These days, when someone tells you that a band is from "out of town," they may just mean Corona, as was the case with the Rattlesnakes' show at the Fold. The band even made do without a tour bus or roadies, amazing for such a long journey from their foreign Inland Empire terrain. They invaded the strange, exotic land of L.A., and kicked more than a little ass.
The distortion was up and the sweat was flowing. Onstage, the Rattlesnakes seemed more genuinely charismatic and electrifying than most so-called rock & roll combos around. From their unison choral shouts and solid, grooving bass lines to singer Nathan's Tasmanian devillike stage movements, the band was on fire. While it's certainly possible to say that the Rattlesnakes' music has hints of the solid '70s rock sound currently enjoying a revival, it'd be just as possible to reach further back and say that the honesty the Rattlesnakes bring to their music reminds one of the time when rock & roll was new, threatening and nearly illegal. In a time when many rock bands have dissected music into a cold science with the clear intent of striking it rich, the Rattlesnakes are shakin' the system, raising the volume, and sweating all over you in the process. (Tätiana Simonian)