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
Yawning Man at first seemed a little too aptly named, with Mario Lalli taking a vocal breather to play bass. While it was frustrating to watch Fatso Jetson's imposing singer stand mute through a string of instrumental jams, Gary Arce's crystalline guitar surfing, loaded up with enough reverb to echo into the following day, soon developed a voice loud enough to chase the narcolepsy away. (Liam Gowing)
VOLUMEN CERO, PASTILLA, GO BETTY GO, JUGUETE
at the Roxy, March 2
Don't let the Univisión folks fool you. The youth of Latino L.A. love their two languages — fuck English and Spanish monolinguals. Proof #32: the bilingual bands that jammed the Roxy Sunday night. Opening was Juguete, four guys and a strong-voiced gal all channeling the Gail Harris-led Wailers through an emo vibe. They added sparkle to their peppily downbeat chords with judiciously administered keyboard and tambourine shakes.
Following was the grrrl-rific punk of Eastside muchachas Go Betty Go. Their only problem also happens to be their most alluring feature: lead singer Nicollete Vilar. Tonight, the ingénue was Gwen-ning a bit too much, letting her bouncing breasts speak louder than her growls. But the rest of the outfit picked up where Vilar showed off too much with their always-stellar lead-pipe rat-tat-tats. (Note to bassist Michelle Rangel: Can we go to prom together?) Ending the estrogen extravaganza were Pastilla and their knee-bopping laments. On the eve of a new album, the group are finally feeling comfortable in the Big Rock Group outfit that has been theirs for the fitting since forever. Their new songs built upon their best features — the closed-eyes weeps of lead singer/guitarist Victor Monroy, manly drums commanding everyone to listen, and harmonies borrowed from Liverpudlians of days past. Now if only their label would promote them properly . . .
Miami pound machine Volumen Cero's sweaty mop-top rock was at its strutting best, the band slowing their guitar and vocal reverbs only to acknowledge swooning fans. After the particularly charming "Luces," singer Luis Tamblay grabbed a black bra a buxom babe had thrown onstage. "Someone lost something!" he gleefully proclaimed to the audience, who wolf-whistled in appreciation. Then Volumen went back to work — they had a house to tear down. (Gustavo Arellano)
ATERCIOPELADOS, OPTÓNICA, LOS ABANDONED
at the Palace, February 27
An 8 p.m. show where the opening act starts at 8 p.m.? The concert world's equivalent of Halley's Comet occurred last Thursday at the Palace's Aterciopelados adoration. Staff pro bruisers hadn't yet groped ticket buyers before native openers Los Abandoned scorched into the material that won them La Banda Elástica's Battle of the Bands contest in January. Fronted by the Venus de Chile, Lady P., their scuzzy/shiny bilingual pop proved the esteemed alt-Latin magazine didn't err in selecting the quartet as El Ley's finest rockeros. The crowd was still filtering into the Palace while Optónica of the Nortec Collective "performed." The most notable aspect of his too-loud programmed blurp-fest was the thankfully distracting light show dancing around the stage. The Tijuana tonto did little more than type into a laptop while twitching occasionally to let fans know he wasn't comatose.
But the venue was nice 'n' packed by the time Colombia's Aterciopelados took the stage at 10 p.m. The duo hadn't visited these parts in almost a year because Andrea Echeverri and Héctor Buitrago took time off for the birth of their daughter, Milagros. And parenthood has seemingly changed the Velvety Ones; serene keyboard dreams now originate from the part of their fecund minds that once inflicted machete-hack aural attacks upon Latin America's ears. This new approach isn't bad, though, as Echeverri remains the Kali of Latin alternative — devourer of hate, priestess of love, offering salvation through her wearied larynx. Looking gawkingly glamorous in a black dress bejeweled with a giant red-sequined heart over her womb, she guided her devotees through the group's greatest — a cumbia-drenched "Caribe Atómico" here, an ultra-rare "Pipa de la Paz" there. That the concert ended at 11:30 p.m.? That was fine. (Gustavo Arellano)
MILEMARKER, THE BLOOD BROTHERS
at the Smell, February 27
Emocore's the label of choice, hardcore presumably being found insufficiently romantic, not nearly enough for the way ahead. But hardcore is what the Blood Brothers are: chainsaw vocals, approving crowd. Hardcore too because there's nothing to distinguish them — hardcore as a diminutive. Hardcore means bring on the empire; these boys sound ready to take on a skate park.
Their lyrics run in the vein of "We don't need a doctor honey/We need a mortician baby," anger trumping itself without intelligence. Their best moments come when they eschew unangled noise for strummy interludes, chants, danceable beats that make the inevitable return to cacophony almost dynamic. Almost. Because even at their most fiery the band rocks only as hard as an infant in the aisle; their rage is repeated till it's nothing but a litany of complaints never compelling enough to be viewed as anything more specific than a tantrum. Passion, to register as such, can't be this easy.
Milemarker pour a far more convincing draught; if lacking the adolescent purity of the Blood Brothers' incoherence, they more than make up for it with craft. Moments of concussive restraint slide easily into '70s-toned sludge, and beneath it all, there's a kind of keening. Poses are struck, hair flipped, but the band skirts ridicule. Milemarker's too earnest to be absurd, playing with too much grace to the greatly diminished crowd. There's nothing spectacular here, but what's extant is legibly so — emotions rendered visible, a realm opened and made available. Nothing spectacular, but nothing without purpose. (Russel Swensen)