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
We’re living urban, going modern Living like our bodies are our minds Every body a reservoir Reborn distracts, reinvention contracts The pain of overwhelming, unknowing, fills out what you see
Like the Clash, Paloma’s biggest lyrical influence, the Sharp Ease shift sociopolitical meaning to dance-ready heights. Their L.A. shows duplicate that feisty mix, and the gals play out their different personas on- and offstage. For instance, a typically rebellious display of Sharp Ease humor took place at a dark and Gothic-tinged gig last Halloween. Defying the night’s implicit dress code, Sara donned a giant green and yellow sunflower suit, and Dana wore a muumuu and afro as Mrs. Roper from Three’s Company.
Aptly, the band loves nicknames. Sassy ’n’ chatty Sara, influenced by the “conviction and bluntness” of blues guitarist Robert Johnson and the Pixies’ Joey Santiago, has earned the nicknames “Wolf,” “Elf Dictator” and “Xana,” the devil girl. Small, wiry, cute, and a fiercely gifted drummer, Christene is “Froggie International” for the scrunched-up frog faces she inadvertently makes. At Sunday’s Long Beach show, she sweated in a self-made tee listing most of her favorite women drummers, including Moe Tucker, Janet Weiss, Karen Carpenter and Sharp Ease booker Toast.
Dana, permanently attached to her hipster trucker hat, is the band’s “Disciplinarian.” At least until she downs Wild Turkey. “One time, we played the Smell, and Dana had a little too much sauce,” Sara says. “She literally picked me up and threw me against a metal wall. She was like, ‘Sara, I love you!’ I was like, ‘Dana, you’re physically violating me!’” The spoken-sung blazing anthem “Joan” credits Dana’s friend from “the Lair of the Bears,” a Humboldt camp she used to work at. “The staff there got wasted the whole summer,” Dana recounts. “Joan and I drank hard liquor and rolled cigarettes, even though you’re not supposed to smoke in the forest . . . The song’s very campy.”
“Commie Baby,” Paloma’s nickname, seems most appropriate. “The night the war started, we did a show at the Bigfoot Lodge,” says Christene. “My brother’s in the military, and I was bummed out. But Paloma walked in dressed as a Parisian in a beret, striped shirt, fucking cute as hell. She did it because of the whole ‘freedom fries’ thing.” Paloma, whose dad moved her out of the commune when “the nipples started getting bigger,” has proclaimed her liberal beliefs from Orange County to Echo Park. Desire, socialism and the full-on joy of grabbing one’s coochie and spazzing out fuel her onstage. “When I perform, I’m so happy afterward,” says Paloma. “It makes me feel like I’ve just had sex.”
Two days before taking off on their first tour of the Midwest, the Sharp Ease played a tight and wild show for the Scutterfest benefit at the Echo. Kids moved to the front as the band erupted into a 10-song set following astronaut robot rappers 8-Bit. Mirrors along the venue’s walls reflected back Paloma in top form, her short dress punkishly torn. Fist-in-the-air screams of “Resist!” from “Advantage” switched into butoh-like facial expressions and crowd-humping interpretive dance moves during the instrumental “Killing the Rooster.” A Scutterfest organizer mooned the audience. An impromptu gay-boy mosh pit broke out during “Lick My Ass.” And all four grinning bandmates threw themselves into the chorus chant of “From the Dodge.”
That night, I realized that the Sharp Ease are my L.A. rock & roll drug of choice. They kick up their boots at societal dogma, appreciate where they’re from, and, in Dana’s words, “We’re not going half-assed.” Or, as Paloma proclaims on the upcoming album: “I demand! A new plan!” Damn straight, sister.