THE UPPER CRUST at Spaceland, February 18
The Upper Crust may have emerged from Boston during the Clinton era, but their time is clearly now: Is there a better song than the Crust's "Baby, I Was Born To Rule" to accompany the dynastic reign of our supremely arrogant and idiotic President George? And is there a better group to perform that song than the Crust, a (now) four-piece done up in 18th-century aristo-garb pancake makeup, white curled bubblewigs able to capably churn out the fratboy-amok-rock of AC/DC, Bob Seger, Ted Nugent and Kiss (and a zillion generic others) between sips from their goblets? Doubt it. This is one joke (band) that's gotten better with age, an all-highlight revue of royally rocking riffs, supremely preening two-liners and William Buckley-esque down-the-nose sniffing and eye-rolling.
Tonight, as always, the Crust give us what they want. There's no "Friend of a Friend of the Working Class," but there is "Old Money" and "Matron" and "Boudoir" and "Little Lord Fauntleroy" and "We're Finished With Finishing School." And of course there's "Let Them Eat Rock," whose lyrics are printed in the evening's program so we can all sing as one with the Crust the immortal lines, "They say there's people starving, dropping down dead in the streets/The lazy slobs, they ain't got a job, they say they ain't got enough to eat/Let Them Eat Rock!"
These are the songs Lee Atwater spins in his grave; the theme music of a slightly hipper John Ashcroft and Orrin Hatch; the true soundtrack to the oligarch vomitoria of Bohemian Grove gatherings. They're arguably the best sarcastic-rock tunes since the Dead Kennedys a point brought home when lead vocalist-guitarist Lord Bendover nonchalantly tossed one of his guitar picks into the arms of the adoring masses, and it landed in the hand of I bullshit you not none other than Jello Biafra. It was a moment of pure poetry. Or was it privilege?
DJ KRUSH, MISTA SINISTA at El Rey, February 21
The chorus of boos that greeted Mista Sinista's set last Friday was reminiscent of a high school pep rally where the cheerleading squad gets showered with spitballs. Already past 11 p.m. and Sinista was still ensconced in a remote sound booth in the back of the theater, all but invisible to the folks below. And the poor guy had no choice. Like any professional, DJ Krush is superstitious about support acts tainting his turntables.
The 41-year-old Krush put his hands together, took a swift bow, and proceeded to take us on a two-hour journey inside his skull a sojourn that some thought woulda been doper had the visuals been more than Steadicam shots of Krush's three-quarter profile. But who needs rainbow-hued morphing blobs or any of that candy-raver shit when the man's hands communicate so deeply? And you know what they say, a DJ is only as good as his record collection, but Krush chewed up and spat out that maxim into an ambitious suite of aural curios and textural contrasts. At times, seemingly static bass drone throbbed and fidgeted till the wallpaper almost peeled off; other times, 808-heavy boom-bap was paired with jazzbo squawks and hard-bop chirps that had no right to be together, but your twisting torso and bobbing head said otherwise.
Unlike DJ Shadow who reportedly has a vinyl library 15,000 LPs strong Krush won't spend 10 years searching for the perfect beat; he gathers up pop-culture clichés with Zen-like equanimity, then peels back the layers until they're fresh as newborn babes. (Andrew Lentz)
INTERPOL, THE WARLOCKS, MOVING UNITS at the Henry Fonda Theater, February 18
It's clear that the members of Interpol want to be taken seriously. Only six months after the release of their first album, Turn On the Bright Lights, the quartet are already guarded around members of the press who mention Joy Division and the Psychedelic Furs as possible influences. "I don't really know what we do . . . we don't look at the style of music we make," guitarist Daniel Kessler painstakingly pointed out in a pre-gig interview. "I don't premeditate what I do. It just comes out subconsciously." Interpol feel they're creating something wholly original, and they want you to know it.
Freud and Jung aside, their show at the Henry Fonda Theater was a faithful re-creation of a brilliant album right down to hitting the stage with its opening track, "Untitled" and though the performance was often reserved, the disciplined craftsmanship shone through in a way that illuminated more art than artifice. The prickly twin guitars and ghostly keyboards simmering above alternately plodding and driving bass and drums set the right stage for vocalist Paul Banks' stream-of-consciousness patter. And though he barely acknowledged the audience, Banks really seemed to reach out with the hushed sexual imagery of "Stella Was a Diver," while those giant gulps of air he took belting out "You go stabbing . . . yourself in . . . the neck!" in "Obstacle 1" displayed a conviction that was not lost on those present. Reacting to the performance, one audience member echoed the sentiments of the majority: "I love them, I love them, I love them."