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
Assembled in Melbourne 10 years ago, the group combines the adventurism and aggression of two veteran punk musicians, drummer Jim White and guitarist Mick Turner, with Ellis’ classical training and libertine heart. As the aforementioned introduction hinted, the band’s sound was distinctly summer of ’69: Violent hippies do bad acid, go on a bender, and make an independent motion-picture soundtrack for a Manson-family biopic.
The crowd at the Henry Fonda Theater was smaller and older than those who have turned out for the club’s recent blockbuster indie-rock shows. The balcony was empty, the floor was half open space, and a drunk guy in a leather jacket had enough room to dance free like he was at some alternate-universe Altamont. On stage, the loose-limbed Ellis kicked up his legs with such fury they seemed to jut out at acute angles from hip to knee to tip of the toe. His bowed notes rushed at you in successive waves; Turner’s guitar clusters came in massed, scratchy bits like ocean foam; and White’s leaden beats, augmented by Salley, sounded like stones dropped in the sea by John Bonham from heaven. (Alec Hanley Bemis)
at McCabe’s, April 20
Two days before New Jersey–based indie Bar None’s release of Baby I’m Bored — ex–head Lemonhead Evan Dando’s first studio album in, ahem, seven years — the surfer-casual singer-songwriter ambles onstage and rambles more than an hour’s worth of new songs (“Rancho Santa Fe” a particular standout), old favorites (“Outdoor Type,” “Paid To Smile,” “Stove”) and a few offbeat covers. Twenty-four tunes in all, many of ’em simply perfect slices of sweet ’n’ sour pop: “It’s a Shame About Ray,” “Down About It,” “Confetti,” “Favorite Tee” and “My Drug Buddy,” for openers. While the new disc features ear-catching contributions from local multitalent Jon Brion, songwriter Ben Lee, longtime Dando collaborator Tom Morgan and a handful of other alt-rock vets, this evening’s first of two sets is strictly a solo affair.
Dando has always come off as an unlikely cross between a golden retriever and a human jukebox, and tonight is no exception. He forgets to bring his guitar cord onstage, then aborts his opening song. (He’ll reprise the tune 30 minutes later, noting that “it’s gotta be easy” and offering “thanks, man” to the audience member who calls out the appropriate chord change.) Other than that, he doesn’t talk.
Which is not only a refreshing change from the usual singer-songwriter prattling on in excruciating detail about the lyrics to the song we’re about to hear, but also a very good thing when Dando decides to fire off a straight-faced three-in-a row from the Velvet Underground songbook: “Heroin” (!), “There She Goes Again” and “Who Loves the Sun.” Or when he closes the show with “Rudderless,” repeating and repeating and repeating and repeating the “a ship without a rudder’s like a ship without a rudder” chorus while detuning his guitar into dissonance. (Don Waller)
at Zanzibar, April 16
Afrika Bambaataa’s influence on dance music cannot be stressed enough, but suffice it to say that there was the world before “Planet Rock” and the world after. The song is, without a doubt, the first track ever to combine Krautrock, funk, disco, dub and punk. Bam not only helped deliver the first hip-hop music, but invented what is known as electro-funk, a style that took the Bronx and Berlin for a spin on George Clinton’s intergalactic Mothership and brokered a deal between black breakbeats and white electronic sequencing, thus creating the archetype of most every genre’s “club music.” Whether it’s electroclash, Miami bass, techno or any form of breakbeats, “Planet Rock” is in there. Bam continually pulls inspiration from Clinton’s magnanimous and diplomatic “Universal Funk” theory, as played out in “One Nation Under a Groove” (which Bam closed with tonight), only he calls it the “Perfect Beat.” The perfect beat has kinetics that transcend language, culture and even MTV; it’s why Bam can drop James Brown, Kraftwerk, the Jacksons and the Halloween soundtrack all in one set!
“Serious” DJs who came to observe the man’s technique and science may have gasped when Bam flossed the “Thong Song,” but guess what? He’s still Afrika from the block, and he still throws down a block party. Every booty was welcome on the stage; some were bumping by the walls, getting sticky with humidity, and others just sat on the couch next to Bam and blazed. Where many DJs would flip if you bumped into their shit, Bam just laughed it off. Nothing but love from Bam — he was even posing for photos and signing autographs during the set; it was like whoever was there, whether they knew about the significance of the “Apache” break or not, knew that they were in the room with a legend. (Daniel Siwek)