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
Drag display the relaxed enthusiasm of an act who know they have it, and make the sparkling interband eye contact of a mutual fan club — when are the rest of us going to join?
Terrie Ex and Andy Moore’s chalky guitar-scrabbling has a clear source in the Gang of Four, and vocalist G.W. Sok can recall Mark E. Smith with a lifetime subscription to Marxism Today, but the Ex have never allowed their sound — or politics — to freeze into an early-’80s post-punk snapshot. Tonight’s set emphasized the immersion in African rhythms evident on the new double-disc Turn, opening with “Huriyet,” an Eritrean freedom anthem (with Sok on huge wooden clappers) and closing with a jam inspired by the Congolese-Angolan group Konono No. 1.
What the band have drawn from the improvised-music scene of their Dutch home base was equally clear — and not only when countryman Han Bennink hurled a snare solo into the encore. Double-bassist Rozemarie, the newest member, grounded the agitfunk numbers as powerfully as any electric player, but also flew off into wild, up-the-neck bowing. On “The Idunno Law,” she channeled the late cellist Tom Cora (a key ’90s Ex collaborator) as Terrie held a transistor radio to his pickups, tuning in a real-time collage of pop, talk and noise: a reminder that the world doesn’t stop spinning because some band — even a great one — is playing in some club.
Bennink’s well-received solo set ranged from shoe-on-snare pitch-bending to masterful ’30s-swing brushwork — techniques you might tire of if you could see him any week in Amsterdam, but fresh to this crowd. Though local openers the Mae Shi have gained in instrumental control since a U.S. tour, they’re still working out a live pace for the sharp-edged song shards on their 33-track Terrorbird. In between, bassist Rachel Dalley of the much-hyped Electrelane collapsed midset; under the circumstances, it would be unkind to chalk up their failure to lock in on the five songs they did manage to anything but physical fatigue.George Dubose)
Sad to See You GoJohnny Ramone, 1948–2004
Johnny Ramone was a guitar hero who hated guitar solos. He’d go entire decades using only two barre-chord formations in concert, up and down the neck with curt precision, slipping in a sneering half-second string bend every few years. The guitarist, who died at his Los Angeles home September 15 after a battle with prostate cancer, didn’t even play most of the scattered licks — they were too short to be called solos — that were overdubbed on the Ramones’ 14 studio albums. Yet his morbidly relentless down-stroke philosophy — just a Mosrite strummed impossibly fast, plugged into a fortress of Marshall stacks — instigated virtually every other punk rhythm guitarist, and acted as the louder-faster starting point for countless aggro-rock and metal groups, from Bad Brains and the Misfits to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica.
Born on Long Island, John Cummings eventually replaced his teenage-hoodlum tendencies with the guitar, encouraged by the swaggering, anyone-can-do-it simplicity of Slade and the New York Dolls. He took the hardest power-chord elements of the Stooges, the Who, the Stones and the early Kinks, sped them up and basically ditched everything else. Although Johnny Ramone was an admittedly limited musician, he was the primary architect of the Ramones’ mesmerizing wall of sound; most bands need two guitarists to approximate the endless sea of distortion he churned out with such deceptive nonchalance. His militaristic approach to touring, rules and dress codes may have frustrated lead singer Joey and main songwriter Dee Dee when they wanted to go in different directions, but Johnny generally had the band’s best (and most punk) musical instincts. He recognized that there were a million great tunes hidden in that mind-clearing blur of fuzz; you just had to keep ’em to jukebox length.