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
Swearing at Motorists opened their set with singer Dave Doughman holding a cell phone to the microphone and playing a message he'd left his mother. Thus began an enthralling hourlong excursion of Rabelaisian-style rock, derisive threats to the audience unless they delivered him some drugs, Prince-like leg-kicks and death-defying aerial jetés. With nary a spare moment in the set, and almost too much energy to ingest, Doughman was disappointed that his show had to close, and invited everybody to the sidewalk outside, where he would gladly play on and on. (Chuck Mindenhall)
ROBERT PLANT at the Greek Theater, September 12
Freak flag still flying, Robert Plant, late of Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin reunions, brought his enduring rock glamour and still-mighty god-hammer to the Greek Theater in an awesome display of control and abandon whose only fault was that it ended too soon. Plant still roams the territory marked out by Zeppelin, that unsuspected country bordered by the Mississippi Delta, the Middle East and Middle Earth, a place of lemon-squeezing heat, filigreed Orientalism and fairy-tale wonder; such is the stuff of his latest album, Dreamland, mostly a collection of covers, with an emphasis on old-school West Coast psychedelia. (The live set also included a cover of Love's "A House Is Not a Motel.")
Onstage between songs, Plant recalled with affection the golden age of the Sunset Strip, yet, unlike so many musicians of a certain age, he doesn't confuse his love of the days of his youth with the notion that the music was better then. Nor like most does he aspire to tastefulness -- or he's outgrown such aspirations -- preferring the grease, the grind, the garage. As performed by a band whose combined CV includes stints with Portishead, Sinéad O'Connor, Roni Size and Massive Attack, Plant's music felt huge and tidal and utterly modern in the sense that it belonged to no time but its own, and while often beautiful and sometimes delicate (Tim Buckley's "Song to the Siren" fought gamely against the crowd), it was never polite. Notwithstanding that nearly half the set mined the Zeppelin catalog, from an angular "Four Sticks" to a cheeky "Hey Hey What Can I Do" to a massive "Whole Lotta Love," there was no pandering to nostalgia, only working out new variations on old themes.
While Plant doesn't have all the high notes he used to, he used to have more than he needed, and remains a singer of fantastic power, recovered flexibility and restless intelligence, redeeming in the rendering his sometimes hippie-Hobbity lyrics and frequent use of the sobriquets "mama" and "little girl" (meaning the same thing, oddly enough). Roadies bring him hot tea now, and he does not bare his chest as in days of old when magic filled the air, but he put his body into his act, twirling and dipping and clapping hands. And there was magic enough. (Robert Lloyd)
It wasn't yet noon, the temperature already soaring above 100 degrees, when the Distillers' Brody Armstrong concluded her opening set of punky Hole-influenced ravers with a cheerily inappropriate "Good night!" Early risers the Adolescents then rumbled remorselessly through iconic blasts "No Way" and "Amoeba," generating slam pits that pulsed in the dense second-stage mob like throbbing crop circles. "Nice gas mask," Tony Cadena commented as moshers stirred up clouds of smoky dust during the aptly titled Fullerton ode "Welcome to Reality." T.S.O.L. followed, with singer Jack Grisham rivaling Johnny Rotten for the day's best wisecracks. "We should have an arm-wrestling contest," he suggested as bouncers fended off an endless swarm of crowd surfers. Besides singing about having sex with corpses, Grisham decried the venue's exorbitant prices, and advocated rushing the water tent en masse as the proper punk rock thing to do. If only the kids were united . . .
By the time Brit hardcore yobs G.B.H. churned out the lovely ditty "City Baby Attacked by Rats," symptoms of heat stroke were setting in. The crowd trudged like dazed refugees to the main theater, where a revolving stage disgorged the Damned, whose bassist Patricia Morrison wore a paper sack over her head in tribute to her first group, the Bags. Lead vampire Dave Vanian's vocals offset the oppressive sunlight with darkly heroic grandeur, but the spinning stage whisked the band away so quickly that guitarist Captain Sensible barely had a chance to shout out to potential groupies: "Come and see us backstage. We fancy a shag." X and the Buzzcocks (whose heart-piercing love songs remain endearingly timeless) ran through similarly brief but fierce sets before giving way to lesser pretenders (Blink-182, the Offspring).
It was left to the Sex Pistols to puncture holes in the oxymoronic punk nostalgia. Backed by Steve Jones' juiced-up Chuck Berry riffs, Johnny Rotten was delightfully offensive, weighing in on everything from the tour's sponsors ("We have nothing to do with Levi's or K-Crock") and the SoCal way of life ("Wanna go surfing, dude?") to self-confidence ("No fucking rapper has got a package like this," he bragged, grabbing his crotch), war ("Bush can kiss my tush") and religion ("There is no God, apart from me"), before encoring with a thrilling take on Hawkwind's "Silver Machine." Rotten even threatened to bring Public Image to town next month, implying that there might be life beyond punk rock. Fancy that. (Falling James)
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