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
KEITH RICHARDS at the Joint, October 28
Every time the Stones come to town, rumors abound about 'em turning up at some li'l dive for a "surprise show." This time out, the impossible-to-get-into Wiltern gig seems to fill that intimate-venue void, so when we heard one or more Stones might turn up at the Joint last week, we were a bit skeptical. Still, the club's Monday-night jams, which feature Waddy Wachtel, Terry Reid and others, have been attracting some biggies — Roger Daltrey popped in recently — so we made the hopeful trek to the tiny Westside hang.
Frizzy-locked guitarist Wachtel offered a set of familiar rock hits, fondling his ax with the kind of possessed affection only a guitarist of his caliber and skill can do without looking cheesy, while the other musicians played off his ebullient energy. Then Wachtel slyly declared, "Ya never know what might happen later," before launching into "Paint It Black," and a thick layer of anticipation filled the air during the break. An hour later, the second set began, and making an entrance from the back kitchen like the riff royal he is (forget about Mick's knighthood) was King Keef, the essence of cool in a casual black suit and silver jewelry. The expensive wino climbed onstage, greeted the crowd with his throaty, sometimes indecipherable ramble, and noodled out a few loose and effortlessly lovely blues numbers, languidly plucking his shiny guitar, chiming in vox whenever he felt the urge. Next he dove into the notorious opening licks of "Start Me Up," moving about and standing so close to the edge of the tiny stage we feared he might fall. Two Rolling Stones backup singers, Blondie Chaplin and Bernard Fowler, fleshed out Keith's sweetly sparse screech on the classic, then all three chimed together on a soulfully unrestrained version of "Jumpin' Jack Flash," ending the magical moment far too soon.
"I'd like to stay longer," said rock & roll's grooviest grandpa, an impish grin suggesting his mind was now on the bigger fish he'd be frying later that week. "But I've got work to do."
THE STROKES at the Greek Theater, November 1
I was convinced the Strokes might be really important when I visited my 12-year-old cousin a while back and saw that he had let his buzz cut grow out into a dirty mop after hearing Is This It. His head now looks like a shrunken replica of lead singer Julian Casablancas' visage. Though my cousin hasn't quit the baseball team yet, he has started playing bass guitar. The Strokes are that good.
At the Greek Theater, they were even better than on record. Dressed in '70s-cum-'80s Lower East Side uniforms, they knocked out 16 songs in under an hour — five new ones, all 11 from their debut, and with minimal banter. They did the album's import version, playing "N.Y. City Cops" instead of the clinker that replaced it stateside post-9/11. The lighting was classic and understated, yet arena-rocking enough to illuminate the faces of the 12-to-15-year-old girls singing along to Casablancas' every word. They did no encores.
The old songs delivered on their record's promise with a danceable, robotic bounce and a weave of hooks so tight you barely noticed it was sewn out of older patches of sound. As the titles of the new songs indicate — "You Talk Way Too Much," "The Way It Is" — they aren't breaking much new ground lyrically, but musically they seem to be slowing down, adding layers and complications, "sophistication." Who knows if the 'tweener demographic will roll with the new material without a fight, but it's admirable to see an emerging band already trying to challenge their audience.
Given their trajectory, the Strokes beg comparisons with bigger acts. They're not in the U2/Radiohead career-rocker pantheon, but it might just happen. (One suggestion: Ditch the downtown NYC chic. It's fine for the Troubadour but a bit precious for a 6,100-seat outdoor venue.) As for the Strokes vs. Nirvana, well, where Cobain exploded, Casablancas just smolders and jokes. Julian's angst is snide, not suicidal, and that's nothing to complain about. Anyone else come to mind? Well, Casablancas does have a saggy butt. "He's looking a little chubby," my date for the evening noted. Behold the lesson of Brian Wilson, my young prince: Drink light beer and keep playing ball. (Alec Hanley Bemis)
BONOBO, DJ FOOD, AMON TOBIN at the Echo, October 30
U.K. hooligans, East Los kids, Silver Lakeians, beautiful people, weirdoes — it's a Ninja Tune showcase at the Echo, yes? Well, Bonobo wasn't about to let fair-weather fans sleep on the sensual swirls of Animal Magic. 'Nobo weaned us off his down-tempo brain-freeze with an understated but jagged energy, and the resulting bliss-out was not so much a mainline syringe as it was a steady morphine drip.
It was lousy to see clubbers blaze unawares past Strictly Kev — one-half of DJ Food — sitting by his lonesome after a sweaty rare-groove blitz. While partner PC was finishing up a European tour, Kev enjoyed the solo flight, the highlight of which was a garage-jiggered "Good Thing" from Fine Young Cannibals. "There's a big thing going on with mash-ups in London right now," he said, cupping his mouth against the din. "Chopping up punk and pop and all that."