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
But Juanes is a humble deity, and he thanked his adherents profusely after every song via Colombian slang to the delight of the majority-Colombian crowd. And he’s talented, too — shining through the overwhelming light show better suited to Journey circa 1979 was Latin alternative’s messianic hope to convert heathen americanos to the rock en español dogma. Juanes’ ratcheting rock licks led his band’s restless percussioning and airy synthesizer smiles through radio-friendly but furious hits; best were the cynical cumbia “Mala Gente,” a seething “La Historia de Juan” and the concluding multiplatinum pop prayer, “A Diós le Pido.” (Gustavo Arellano)ALIEN ANT FARM at the Troubadour, July 10
Riverside’s Alien Ant Farm are in a precarious position that perhaps personifies the music industry’s current malady: Though their 2001 major-label debut, ANThology, was a platinum seller, this offers few future guarantees in a business plagued by ADD. Also, ANThology was propelled by AAF’s endearing treatment of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal,” which inadvertently overshadowed their own nimble prog-pop compositions.
Still, tonight there’s a palpable sense of appreciation from the band (who survived a nasty tour-bus wreck last year) and a hearty hug from a heaving Troubadour. On the kickoff “1000 Days” from new album truANT, bottom-heavy acoustics immediately take their toll, bass pulses detonating like concussion devices. Dryden Mitchell’s voice is a surprise: In woolly hat and tinted shades, he emits a beguiling, vibrato-striped croon from a curious hunch, his timbre more fruity and emotive than the band’s recordings allow. “1000 Days” encapsulates AAF’s bipolar signature of churning, distorted riffage framing a yearning melody and bounce-along chorus.
Alien Ant Farm wisely concentrate on cuts from the charmingly versatile ANThology: the choppy opening of “Movies” sprouting arms aloft, “Attitude” revisiting intricately sculpted, head-in-hands regrets. Yet even in moments of lilting, harmony-stroked grace, the band retain a comic veneer, with ludicrously talented bassist Tye Zamora tirelessly gurning through his undulating lines. Cover tunes are a malleable joy to AAF, and the expansive syllables of Sade’s “Smooth Operator” allow Mitchell to roll out still more vocal colors, before “Smooth Criminal”’s taut, nervous grooves satiate the cynical.
At once humble and triumphant, Alien Ant Farm are a contemporary oddity: a band that favor musicality over lifestyle, expression over genre. Yet, in an industry that struggles to market anything more complex than musical cartoons, they’ll probably get little thanks for it. AAF fall somewhere between Ozzfest and the Warped Tour, which, commercially, is an uncomfortable place to be. (Paul Rogers)L.A.’S GATES OF METAL FESTIVAL at the Ibiza Theater, July 6
Any festival where you can quaff, leak and lounge is a good festival; any festival where you can’t must surely blow, regardless of who’s on the damn boards. Thanks to a great venue (an old-time Whittier ballroom complex), this was a good festival, even if the sounds encouraged more malt than mosh. But then, there were about 20 bands, and I only saw 12.
The Bay Area’s Death Machine had both the best music and the worst look; seal your peepers and you could absorb the syncopated blast driven by a truly wizardly drummer, instead of cringe at the bass wimp’s nonfunny devil-in-knickers regalia. They also had an unlistenable/unwatchable yellman, but 66.6 percent of the marquee could say the same. Colporter’s bassist-singer at least was a fetching blond, though a dump truck of reverb couldn’t make her spooky ’stead of squeaky, their dirges lacked rot, and she was way too nice for metal. Epicedium’s bushy-maned singer-guitarist: charismatic; their thrash: monochromatic.
A wide selection of metals was on tap. Three Sixes did that bounce & groove thing real well, though the genre is currently post-novel and pre-classic. When we scoped keyboards and six-string bass we divined that prog-metal lurked on the horizon, and Prymary fulfilled our prognostications with manly yet sexless wails and complicated structures featuring the sacred harmonic intervals of progressive music. (They said they’d be opening for Fates Warning, yup.) Krome also strove mightily in the Unintentional Cover Band competition (subcategory Alice in Chains). And hard-rock die-hards Wood were the clear winners in Bad-Ass Attitude and Visual Presentation (sword mike stand, smoking elf head) but, despite their piratical garb, fell short in the Hook division (sorry, Captain).
A half-hour drum check signaled the coming of Cage. These San Diegans have been around for a million years; deglammed these days, they delivered an excellent set of dynamic, finely crafted melody metal and strode offstage into the stench-hole of Tecate flatulence, victorious. (Greg Burk)PUPPET TERROR at the Key Club, July 12
There’s no disputing the premise of the zine Puppet Terror, the brainchild of Shawna Kenney and Weekly contributor Pleasant Gehman. Anthropomorphic toys — puppets, dummies, dolls — are fascinating, disturbing things, whether lying there lifelessly or, as in imaginative fiction from Yiddish golem tales to William Goldman’s Magic, animated without willed assistance. The zine itself is a witty mess of clip art, abuse-survivor-style testimonials, and personal ads from the likes of Lady Elaine and Mr. Moose.
But this launch party/variety show was overlong, ill-paced and less often creepy than merely sleazy, closer in ambiance to Jumbo’s Clown Room than Bob Baker’s Marionette Theater. It all began cleverly enough, with a videotaped message from “Osama Bin Wooden,” vowing on “Kukla, Fran and Allah” to sever his ties from human masters, and a klezmerized cover of “Master of Puppets” from flesh-and-blood house band the Mortimer Snerd Experience. Unfortunately, they were joined by two unchoreographed strip-club rejects in clown makeup, setting the boringly “transgressive” tone for the next three hours. The nadir: an interview with Lambchop, re-conceived as an oversexed talk-show has-been à la Shelley Winters, complaining about Howdy Doody’s penis size. (One hopes Shari Lewis’ estate lawyers weren’t around.)