ELECTROCLASH II at the Henry Fonda Theater, April 5
With straight boys slumming as cross-dressers, fashion damage ranging from aqua satin tops to purple stilettos, and enough cyber-slut cleavage to gag Dale Bozzio, there was no mistaking tonight's crowd as the same misfits that made last year's Electroclash premiere such an inspired freakfest. Even billboard goddess Angelyne was there, parking her hot-pink Corvette right under the venue's marquee and winking at this writer as she darted through the crowd with a 20-year-old boy toy on her heels. Yeah, she has a thing for me.
Besides the slammin' remixes he cut between acts, the evening's host and scene founder, Larry Tee, exhibited genuine affection for his charges. "These two girls really put the 'ass' in electroclash," he said, introducing chanteuses-cum-Cheetah's dancers Avenue D, who make smut queen Peaches look downright Victorian. As the Ave.'s cherubic Daphne sported next to nil but nipple pasties and hooker-tuff Debbie maximized her ample bosom, the girls bumped and ground their way thru a flurry of synth-pop confections culminating in pleasure-device paean "Orgasmatron," which boasts the fetching chorus "It comes with batteries, no assembly required/Stick it in your ass when your pussy gets tired." But the steamy lyrics were nothing compared to the "fan" who jumped onstage for the mock three-way, grabbing tits, dogging that ass, and, in a true display of coital acrobatics, perfectly illustrating the "wheelbarrel" from Chapter 7 of The Joy of Sex.
But if Avenue D were as nastee as they wanted to be, headliners W.I.T., in matching beige taffeta gowns, were demure performance artists flapper girls reimagined as game-show bimbos? They specialize in synchronized dance steps, with Christine Doza's coy pout reminiscent of Bernadette Peters if she had Farrah Fawcett bangs, and one of the strangest routines was "It Kills," in which Mandy Coom and Melissa Burns vogued pretentiously with guitars they never played. Though W.I.T.'s most nostalgic tune was "Ooh, I Like It," the highlight was a cover of "Just What I Needed" that Ric Ocasek would either have loved or hated. But the trio's real gift is playing the tease, doing only a handful of numbers after keeping us waiting till 12:30! True, eight songs is all they've written in their brief existence, but these eye-batting coquettes could have played 80 and it wouldn't have been enough.
TURBONEGRO at the Troubadour, April 3
"What are you doing tonight?" "Oh, I'm going to go see my favorite band!" When was the last time you were able to say that and mean it? I wasn't alone in my feelings, given the fact that underground Norwegian band Turbonegro sold out the Troubadour in less than an hour, creating enough demand to add a second show the same night, which also sold out almost instantly. Judging by the reaction from the throng, anticipation for the recently reunited six-piece denim army created full-on Turbomania. Why? The key reason is the group's last official studio release, 1997's Apocalypse Dudes, which many hotshots (such as Eddie Spaghetti of the Supersuckers) proclaimed as the best rock album of the '90s, nevermind Nirvana or any other contenders. Despite the album being embraced by forward-thinking rock fans worldwide, the group called it quits in '98 after a grueling tour, officially citing "religious differences" in the press. Undaunted, the group's European label assembled a star-studded tribute album that subsequently spiked demand for a re-formed Turbonegro. They reunited, recorded a new album, toured Europe, and recently toured the East Coast as guests of Queens of the Stone Age, who are true Turbo fans (Turbojugend) and who recorded Turbo's "Back to Dungaree High" for the tribute.
Turbonegro took the Troubadour stage like conquering warriors. Opening with "The Age of Pamparius," their set closely mirrored the highlights from Apocalypse Dudes, with one lone selection from their upcoming studio opus Scandinavian Leather, out domestically next month. Two favorites from their earlier Ass Cobra album met with similar audience glee, and seemingly the entire crowd knew the words to the anthems "Midnight NAMBLA" and "I Got Erection." Vocalist Hank von Helvete, resembling a well-fed Charlie Manson in Love It to Death-era Alice Cooper makeup, sported a cane and denim cape as he led fans through sing-alongs like "Prince of the Rodeo" and "Good Head." Euroboy, lead guitarist extraordinaire, is the ultimate successor to the glam-noise crown of Mick Ronson. His smooth but energetic slow-hand Les Paul solos ripped through the P.A. like a gilded dagger. The band's powerful twin-guitar attack draws from sources such as the Dictators, Ramones, Cooper and Spiders-era Bowie.
Hard rocking but hooky as hell, Turbonegro's brand of apocalyptic arena rock is well poised to break out to a wider and younger audience tired of the manufactured punk and nu-metal shoved down its throat by corporations more concerned with fighting downloads than finding bands with anything real to present. Operating well beyond such clichés as metal or punk, Turbonegro could prove to be the last great real rock band a band whose ideals are held together by stubbornness, singular vision, humor, a disregard for common sense and good taste, and the ability to musically kick major ass. (SL Duff)