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
THE SEX PISTOLS, DROPKICK MURPHYS, THE REVEREND HORTON HEAT at the Greek Theater, September 6
“It’s a psychobilly freakout,” Dallas rockabilly preacher Horton Heat sang, earnestly enough — the only problem being that, after 50 years, his brand of rockabilly isn’t all that freaky or psychotic anymore. Backed by drums and a standup bass, the reverential reverend scratched out rootsy guitar lines that were properly twitchy and nervous, if largely derivative, despite occasional lovely embellishments like the spectral plucking that adorned the intro and outro of “Galaxie 500.” Boston’s Dropkick Murphys represented a different brand of traditionalism, cranking up Woody Guthrie’s ever-timely “Gonna Be a Blackout Tonight” with a pulverizing punk revisionism à la the Real McKenzies. Laced with pipes, bagpipes and mandolin, the Murphys’ melodies tend to come off like “Auld Lang Syne” as sung by “yo-ho, yo-ho”–bellowing pirates. Sounding and even looking like former Blood on the Saddle singer Annette Zilinskas, guest vocalist Stephanie Dougherty, decked out as a winsomely wholesome bobby-soxer, provided sweetening on “The Dirty Glass” and a rowdy remake of “If I Were a Carpenter” that underscored the connection between cowpunk and Irish folk.
The Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten announced humbly, “The queen is dead — all hail the king,” referring of course to himself, in front of a crowd that included onetime dead-queen-documenter Morrissey. Despite ushers’ visible concern over the slam-dancing in the aisles, Rotten egged on the revelers with class-warfare broadsides. (“This is the Greek, and all the millionaires in the hills are listening. Let’s make some noise!”) Introducing the set, Rotten declared, “Peace and love and all that crap. I think you know who we are,” before guitarist Steve Jones launched into the foreboding riff of the abortion-gone-wrong spectacle “Bodies,” still bloody and sinister after all these years. Rotten substituted “Baghdad” for “Belsen” on Sid Vicious’ black-humored “Belsen Was a Gas,” and merrily sang a verse of the Doors’ “Hello, I Love You” during a propulsive “Submission.” “Seventeen” dragged a bit, but the Pistols have always been slower than other punks, creating a mood of seedy danger through swaggering, deliberately delivered power chords instead of fast tempos. “You lot need clues for everything,” cheerleader Rotten chided the kids, stirring up applause for the closing encore of “Anarchy in the U.K.” and “Problems,” which climaxed with Jones’ clever, extended stutter-step strumming. Rotten, naturally, got the last word: “We are not worthy, but you make fucking sure that you are.”
LOS LOBOS, CAFÉ TACUBA, KINKY at the Hollywood Bowl, September 7
The Monterrey quintet Kinky kicked off the show with a blend of traditional Mexican music and heavy electronic beats. On “Do U Like It,” keyboardist Ulises Lozano and bassist Cesar Pliego (in his signature Stetson) put out a sound that made you feel like you were at an Eastside house party with hundreds of your friends dancing.
The highlight of the night had to be Café Tacuba. Lead singer Rubén Albarrán, wearing a pastel-blue suit, a hot-pink shirt (think Wham), a white tie and white shoes, got the energetic set going when he dedicated the song “Ingrata” to the Mexican masses on top, who went crazy. During “La Chica Banda,” Albarrán decided to pay them a visit; mike in hand, he made his way up, got mobbed by screaming young women and had to be rescued by security. The band had the kids literally running through the aisles in a crazed conga line for “Las Persianas,” and said goodbye with their now-signature four-man-synchronization modified pop-lock dance moves.
The moon was out when East L.A. veteranos Los Lobos took the stage. The mood quickly mellowed, and pipe-passing was in full effect as Davíd Hidalgo and César Rosas had to ask the crowd, “Are you there?” The Grammy-winning Wolves are tighter than ever, but it took such cover hits as Vicente Fernández’s “Volver, Volver” and Richie Valens’/the Rascals’ “La Bamba”/ “Good Lovin’” to really get the crowd going. Café and Kinky came out for a huge cumbia party set to “Cumbia Raza,” and the baton of “Latin alternative” music was passed. (Ben Quiñones)
BURNING SPEAR AND THE BURNING BAND at House of Blues, September 4
For someone who said he was giving up touring, Winston Rodney has a funny way of showing it. In the midst of playing 50 North American dates in 10 weeks on the heels of an arduous European stint, the man known as Burning Spear and his cohorts set up shop on Sunset Boulevard. Jamaican time was in effect, as the group went on more than an hour “late.”