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
at the Roxy, October 23
The Donnas are already ancient; they've been sounding "bad girl wrecking prom" since they were 13. While waiting to turn 21, they kicked out a lot of jams owing something to the Ramones and a whole lot to Nikki and the Corvettes. On their latest LP, Spend the Night, they seem to have finalized themselves as a Hessian version of Jem and the Holograms; the girls have gone hentai, the solos are beery and arena, the back-seat snarls are a bit fuller. The question is whether any of this is progress.
Live, they grind out a tight, ferocious set. They strut. They're older now but still play with the doe-eyed abandon of girls out way past curfew. Perhaps that's the problem -- Spend the Night trades heavily on the continuing allure of schoolgirl slumber-party coquette. The lyrics are interchangeable with any of their previous albums', a verbal shimmy of drink up, you're hot, you're not; it's still "You wanna fuck me but I'm going to fuck you." It's hard to hear this spiel repeated; at 16 it was flat-out, but six years later, after at least one girl's stumbled down the aisle? It's a failure, if not of nerve, then of ambition.
It's easy to think of the Donnas as commenting upon the persona they've adopted, to view their repetition as being distant in intent from the original. But the Donnas don't give a damn about irony. They care about jeans and rep and hot-rod hormones; they're Motley Crue, basically. They're not here to save rock -- they want to rock. No one's going to confuse this with intelligence, but the music's still voluptuous, riffs barely contained by their own exuberance. They play as they have to play, indifferent to their own limitations. They close out the show with a rousing version of "Skintight." And who knows? Perhaps one day their charm will be more than skin-deep. They're only 22. (Russel Swensen)
THE (INTERNATIONAL) NOISE CONSPIRACY
at the Palace, October 22
A self-proclaimed "grassroots political group," Sweden's the (International) Noise Conspiracy are in fact a bunch of garage punks drunk on sex, noise and revolution. At the Palace, the five-piece -- uniformly hot in raven mullets, red pants and black T-shirts with sawed-off sleeves -- reached for ammo from their 2001 manifesto New Morning, Changing Weather, dressing situationism and bolshie politics in dirty talk, slapping pop glee and riffs nicked from the Kinks on the primal tension of Stooges and MC5 rhythms, and twitching like the godfather of soul had just entered the building. Hammy front man Dennis Lyxzén dive-bombed off the amp stack and executed scissors kicks with the radical aplomb of David Lee Roth high on lighter fluid, while cool switchblade Sara Almgren shook it up with a bass, a tambourine, maracas and keyboards. No matter what you thought of their political wisdom ("Let's say no to the war in Iraq, okay?"), it was impossible to resist the Who-inspired maximum-R&B action of "New Empire Blues" (which went from a commentary on "free-trade restructuring plans" to "Give it to me, mama!") or the driving menace of Stooges riffs paired with the ridiculous uplift of organ grooves on "Born Into a Mess." Likewise, the feminist stomp "Breakout 2001" had all the sisters in the audience spasming with desire.
A year ago T(I)NC hit town with the Hives in tow, and their own opening act came furiously close to stealing their thunder. This time around they brought along their more sedate countrymen Division of Laura Lee, brooding rockers with a dark sexual edge squalling the welfare state blues. (Ain't it a bitch when the government pays for your amps and rehearsal space?) D.O.L.L.'s sound, cobbled together from heavy, distorted power chords in the brooding vein of Jesus & Mary Chain, is pleasantly moody, and their nimble bassist/co-vocalist Jonas Gustafsson has an attractive snarl, but the crowd wasn't buying it. Vocalist No. 2, Per Stålberg, tried in vain to work up some mojo: "Los Angeles, you don't have to be afraid! Can you dance? Do you know how to do that?" Er, apparently not. D.O.L.L. concluded their set by trashing their drum kit, possibly in frustration. (Sorina Diaconescu)
at the Wiltern, October 24
Midway through Ani DiFranco's solo date at the Wiltern, she quietly spoke to her adoring fans: "My heart has been breaking, and it means so much to feel this love and support." The woman sitting next to me began weeping while the crowd roared. It was an unparalleled moment of naked honesty, and it proved, to paraphrase an adage about another musical act/social movement, that there is nothinglike an Ani DiFranco show.
To further paraphrase, DiFranco isn't merely the best at what she does, she's the only one. With dreadlocks flying, she bounced around the stage, half-Jagger, half-Chaplin. While she performed a few recent songs, including "Garden of Simple" and "Your Next Bold Move," most of the material was new, and her music continues to grow exponentially, employing an improvisational style incorporating elements of jazz, hip-hop, spoken word and sounds plucked from the air. Like everything Ani, her phrasing is wholly unorthodox. She'll sing/talk a word repeatedly, voice autistically swinging between wail, hum, giggle and mumbled jokes. She changed guitars between each tune: 6- and 12-string and strangely shaped axes, all tuned differently. She's retained her trademark percussive, rhythmic style but is also a dexterous soloist.