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
THE RATTLESNAKES, THE MANIFOLDS at the Smell, January 23
"It's a real rock lineup" is how the Manifolds' front man introduces the show. Initially believable, the statement looks increasingly wan as the night spirals down. There's a slew of bands, but they're instantly nameless because they fail to make any name for themselves; they're only rock if we define rock as music involving loud guitars and vocals directed vaguely toward the rafters, music that sounds like that description instead of exploding from it.
But there are two serpents that shine in even this dull nest. The Manifolds themselves are all vulgar guitar and vocals like someone trying to be heard over a hurricane. This is garage rock, but convincingly so; if we can place garage as being exuberance and fury's noisy intersection, then good garage rock is site-specific, a particular set of intersections. If rock is an oft-said word, then it's how individually it's said, and the Manifolds say it with slack élan, asking the crowd to "take our fucking merchandise. Just take it. We're fucking sick of it."
The Rattlesnakes look too cool for school, but they're not completely without fang; it's adrenaline rock, the vocals playing call/response with walls of guitar sound, chanting with an almost Minor Threat vibe, though this is a much louder prayer. At their best the Rattlesnakes sound like a car wreck interrogating itself. But at their worst? This is just rock as a big inflatable threat. The Rattlesnakes play fast and loud, but it's a sad day when that's the best that can be said. Sports-car rock. They're tight, but what of it? This isn't science or theater; rock isn't a well-fitting lid or a well-delivered line. As the set progresses, everything, even their genuine passion, ceases to command attention — the set dissipates into a slurry of painted metal sound. (Russel Swensen)