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
Silverchair have burrowed into a “career band” niche that supposedly no longer exists: They’re thriving on quality songwriting, authentic delivery and stylistic single-mindedness, which — even without airplay — appears to be here to stay. (Paul Rogers)
PETE YORN, GRANDADDY at the Wiltern, May 29
Pete Yorn’s Music for the Morning After glistened with a wistful tint, acoustic strings in place of veins — a breeze could strum him into song. The record worked. But the follow-up and supporting tour find him . . . too much himself. Too much the guy who made sad sound nimble. The problem? You can’t have a one-off twice. Day I Forgot’s wide-eyed mourning repeats itself into mere slurry.
Yorn’s bombastic presence is a tiny man shouting. Songs big as Texas without so much as a scuff. The old songs expose the new as failures of nerve and expose Yorn as Springsteen without a boulder-size heart; in fact, Yorn sounds like there’s nothing in his chest except wadded cellophane. Even signature songs like “Lose You” come off as deception — passion as gimmick.
Grandaddy opening? Absurd. Grandaddy are a prelude to the angelic. Their new record stumbles from lab to landscape, the agony of becoming machine now the pain of still being human. The record’s a skinned knee. Discolored. Yet even the darkest songs have a new, checked-pulse warmth, vocals sweet as pressed flowers. But not without fury — the vocals are plaintive because something is missing. Grandaddy are a car swerving into oncoming traffic — because nowhere is the place one has to go. But Grandaddy leaving after six songs? Left me staring at the stage like the other side of the bed. Staring at the receding is Grandaddy. And Grandaddy leaving the stage is skin going blue. (Russel Swensen)
FU MANCHU at the Troubadour, May 31
It’s a rare thing to go to a show in West Hollywood where most of the crowd seems to have driven up from OC. Girls with flowing golden hair, young dads in Hang Ten shirts and surf rats struggling toward adolescence gave the Troub a home-game coziness. And the sonic milieu responsible for this? Imagine that Ozzy grew up riding the heavies off Dana Point or that Blue Cheer weren’t so blue, and you’d approximate San Clemente’s Fu Manchu, the hookiest “stoner metal” band on the planet.
Just don’t assume Scott Hill has an attitude. The Fu singer-axman might have Tom Petty’s native-son-via-Evan Dando hunk thing going on, but he’s not much for small talk, even with a crowd as adoring as tonight’s. “How y’all doin’?,” “This song is from —,” “Thanks for comin’ down” and a brief plug for the double live CD coming out in July (“Just thought I’d let you know”) was about it for the banter. That’s ‘cause Hill lets his Marshall stack do the talking, and the subjects ranged from UFO-buff/muscle-car-obsessed material from the early In Search Of all the way to 2001’s California Crossing. And while Hill and lead guitarist Bob Balch’s execution is as focused as a laser, don’t confuse that with wankiness (Balch isn’t a technique geek) or acid-fry space-outs (Hill kicked out Balch’s predecessor for that very reason). Rather, the pair burnt through the standards like an old married couple long familiar with each other’s habits.
Though Fu can come off humorless, you have to wait for tunes like “Weird Beard” to see how much the band relish camp. Hill stretched that midsong caesura so long you thought the tune was over — then the refrain “Weeeiiirrrd beeeeaaaard” came crashing in like an epiphany. And while multiple covers at another band’s gig would come across as set-list padding, the Fu get away with it because the host song gets a full makeover, and these ditties — including Van Halen’s “D.O.A.” early on and Black Flag’s “Six Pack” in the encore — were almost unrecognizable until the choruses. Those’re my boys, all right: insidious as a contact high. (Andrew Lentz)
LOVE WITH ARTHUR LEE at Royce Hall, May 30
Much of the crowd appeared confused by the difference between Royce Hall and a typical Sunset Strip nightclub. For instance, since the concert was clearly billed as Love’s first-ever local performance of the entire 1967 psychedelic masterpiece Forever Changes, was it really necessary for the heathens to boorishly request songs from other albums throughout the set? (Especially since leader Arthur Lee generously bookended the evening with several old hits.) Did Brian Wilson have to fend off inane shout-outs for “Little Deuce Coupe” during his similar live revival of Pet Sounds? “I love you, Arthur!” a dude kept yelling, breaking the fragile spell after “Between Clark and Hilldale.” “I love you, too . . . considering the circumstances,” a bemused Lee replied. Love’s fans have always been excessively neurotic and protective — they seem to genuinely believe that Mr. Lee will lose focus without their constant requests and patronizing advice — but they should remember one of the first rules of heckling: Shut up, unless you’ve got something to say.