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
EVAN DANDO, RHETT MILLER, CONSONANT at Avalon, September 25
For those who haven’t braved the revamped, renamed Avalon: It’s the Palace you know and tolerate, gussied up with op-art carpeting, comfier balcony seating and annoyingly blocked-off VIP areas, though what VIPs were expected on a Miller-sponsored weeknight, I can’t tell you. No points whatsoever to venue or promoter for forcing Consonant onstage, unbilled, at an insulting 7:30, preventing a still-gathering crowd from discovering Mission of Burma co-founder Clint Conley’s passionately wise new songs.
The lengthy acoustic set by Old 97 front man Rhett Miller mixed band material, songs from his 2002 solo album, The Instigator(an uneven bid to fly the alt-country coop), and a few unrecorded numbers. But without the 97’s tough backing, Miller overcompensated, hacking away at breakneck speed and headbanging — he’s got the locks for it — as though something were happening up there that just plain wasn’t. Best in show: “The New Kid,” an incredibly bitter meditation on fame (“You’ll get carried away/You will be replaced”) with a sweeping, Smiths-worthy chorus.
Miller needed a band; Evan Dando could have left his at home. His show-closing spot was loose but affecting, especially on the Hank Williams–simple “Why Do You Do This to Yourself?” and the Lemonheads’ featherweight “Into Your Arms.” But the earlier electric portion was rife with the midtempo monotony that made people justifiably sick of “alternative rock” in the first place. Guitarist Chris Brokaw (also of Consonant) managed a few fiery leads, but he was outmatched by a profoundly uninventive rhythm section and Dando’s disengaged vocals. It’s great that Dando — who could tell Miller some Next Big Thing stories — has survived a decade of drugs and seclusion, but if his second act’s this dull, it’s no victory for his fans. (Franklin Bruno)
WEEN at the Wiltern, September 24
You’ve got to love a band that, on the 22nd song of its set, with a half-second guitar-riff cue, gets an audience of 3,000 singing — completely unbidden — the words “A child without an eye/Made her mother cry/Why ask why.” You just do, right — even if it’s a love that’s more begrudging, chuckling “Okay, nowwwww I get it” admiration than instinctive insta-lust. Ween is that kind of band: The further you go, the more you know how good they are. How great they are. ’Cuz you can’t dig where they’re at, the absurdly high level of their craft, until you’ve heard their range and depth, which tonight unfolds across two dozen–plus songs. Hastily scribbled show notes (“Jimmy Buffett . . . greatest electric-guitar riff ever . . . sensitive male super-power ballad . . . Crazy Horse crunch-stomp . . . King Crimson angular malignance . . . Bette Midler histrionics . . . endless anthemic Seger sap . . .”) describe an eccentric hophead’s mixtape made from parents’ records, or a high school prom gone horribly weird, rather than an epic performance by a plain-clothesed New Jersey five-piece with no light show to speak of, playing in a large room with boomy sound. But here they are, Dean Ween and Gene Ween and two other guys and none-more-underrated drummer Claude Coleman (miraculously recovered from a horrific car accident just a year ago), mounting a fake hit parade for the men and women who own Mr. ShowSeason IV bootlegs, who believe in sitting down on the couch for what you believe in. Tonight is the latest episode in a never-ending, always-expanding in-joke, made by genuine-genius musicians busily gobbling Pop whole and painting absurdly funny new parody-pictures from the resulting vomit/void action. Think Uncle Zappa, not Weird Al. And don’t ask why. (Jay Babcock)
POLE, I’M NOT A GUN, PHTHALOCYANINE at the Silent Movie, September 24
The drums and electric guitar of I’m Not a Gun offset much DJ laptopping from Phthalocyanine while Robert Drummond’s projected mirage of 10 years’ worth of past post cards from Green Galactic actions shambles through the night. A laptop delivers snowfallen rhythm lines moving like glass along the sibilance of the cymbals and disparate images of Southland landscapes. The places undoubtedly have changed across the years, seemingly immutable but for the smaller details, much as electronic music has been seen as a beast evolving and mutating — a beast seeking poise and reserve even as it occasionally remembers that it is, in fact, a beast.
Stefan “Pole” Betke’s ever-sliding panoply of slow computer sterility plays out alongside silent-film passages — yet here is the sooty rhythm of dub, a New York saxophone and an occasional but regular chime. Things are made sterile because man forces nature’s hand. Things are cold because man feels the lack of warmth. Betke, perhaps realizing this implicitly, sways and bobs with his own rhythms, at bliss and shaking his head at the flow of silent images across which he is often projected. The dub beat is cut into halves and thirds within its natural cadence, and there comes a point at which the beats stretch out, languidly becoming comfortable in their own skins even as a rash and echoing planet of melody eclipses them. Pushing the knocks and reverberations from one end of the spectrum to the other, Betke succeeds in slowing the frantic trip down electronic music’s lonesome freeway, where the brake pedal of the automobile is ably replaced by the infinite-repeat button of the compact-disc player. (David Cotner)