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Dandyland 

Polaroids from Silver Lake

Thursday, Aug 28 2003
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Photo by Wild Don Lewis

SUNSET JUNCTION STREET FAIR, August 23-24

Colonel Mustard hooked me up with a ride into Silver Lake just in time to see a great little rock & roll band called Kennedy finish a set with their namesake’s magnificent bass launch . . . could have been an incredible Krist Novoselic “What happened to my nose?” moment, but the bastard caught it!

Sunset Junction Street Fair was a good scene from the get-go: Saxophonist Jon Wahl played his Captain Beefheart out for the Stooges-friendly sound of the Icarus Line, and it all looked like mad fun until their guitarist chucked — I shit you not — a Marshall half-stack right off the stage; Jake La Botz played the blues at El Cid as if he’d lived not one but several hard lives; Snake vs. Wizard threw down some almost impenetrable hard-rock grooves in a parking lot; and Anton from Brian Jonestown Massacre offered to impregnate most of the females in the audience. I had to swim through the crowds watching Christopher Wonder escape from a padlocked straitjacket on stilts, mind you, to see Circle Jerks’ forever hardcore front man Keith Morris just own the crowd — and shout “Coup d’état!” along with every other motherfucker there. Then I was Guided by Voices into Hollywood to attend the Dandy Warhols’ Welcome to the Monkey House release party at Bang! and witness an acoustic performance that highlighted the consistent core of the band’s sound amid the new record’s aural renovation: the intimate way cousins Courtney Taylor-Taylor and Brent DeBoer mix melody and harmony.

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Made a Nervous Return on Sunday to bask in a second day of lemonade, carnival rides, tasty pupusas and great music. Realized that Keith Slettedahl has pipes, and that the naked pop of the 88 is going to be huge; saw the kids out in force to welcome Moving Units and Earlimart back home. Soul singer Vonyse added soprano to the insane low end of seven-string bass. Silversun Pickups sang, “Everything is connected and beautiful,” and it was. I wanted to see Isaac Hayes, but was pinned at the front of the Bates stage beneath the Dandy Warhols — staring up into the night sky, watching the rock stars.

BRIGHT EYES, BELLE & SEBASTIAN at the Greek Theater, August 24

The most frequent complaint against old soul Connor Oberst — the 22-year-old oracle behind Nebraskan sad sacks Bright Eyes — is that he overemotes. Naw, it’s just that most people at his age (make that any age) don’t feel the vicissitudes of life and love with such staggering, nerve-shredding depth. And while the “new Dylan” epithets might be premature, that voice’s reedy roller-coaster phrasing could survive the absence of the backing band’s lush orchestrations. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s really cute, as evidenced by droves of dumbstruck teenyboppers pledging their love.

Belle & Sebastian have the gift — just like Donovan, the Feelies and Burt B. — executing their strummalicious swirl of ecstatic pop as confidently as they breathe, with as many as five fiddlers and a cellist onstage at any given time. The yahoos screaming song requests should know you don’t push these gentle Scots, you let them do their thing, especially when they lay themselves as bare as guitarist/vocalist Stevie Jackson does: “I never wanted to be a singer, y’see. Fate just dealt a hand.” And like Mr. Oberst, B&S main man Stuart Murdoch (dig the white pants, man) fielded offers of marriage, which he took semiseriously: “Hmmm, I d’know — are you rich?”

The band’s energy escalated with time, so it seemed almost too much of a good thing by the time Murdoch bade us goodnight, as if there wasn’t going to be an encore. He soon re-emerged escorting no less a personage than bespectacled Buggles founder Trevor Horn, producer of Belle & Sebastian’s upcoming Dear Catastrophe Waitress, who strapped on a bass and cranked “Video Killed the Radio Star” as though it had been preserved in amber since 1983. Murdoch hadn’t been kidding when he said he had a “wee surprise.” (Andrew Lentz)

LEXICON, NORTHERN STATE at the Troubadour, August 20

Lexicon are local MCs and biological brothers Oak and Nick Fury, who scarcely need consult their namesake to verbalize their day-to-day travails — you know, heavy stuff like being addicted to footwear (“Nikehead”), weed and pussy. With one sporting a stylish white ’fro and the other in an olive-drab Marine cap, the two swung like seasoned microphone fiends in their 20-minute set. Lexicon may be clever wordsmiths, but the sporadic scratches and familiar samples from producer DJ Cheap Shot (who owns their label, SpyTech Records) and the whole say-“hey”-say-“ho” Yo! MTV Raps tone of their presentation was pretty stale. Still, Lex have the kind of heart that nearly makes up for it.

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