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 professionally chrome-domed boys in the band looked the part of elder statesmen, as did Deal, whose new haircut cast her as the cool new riot mommm on the block. Though they eschewed pointless big-rock formalities, they played “Wave of Mutilation” twice (“surf version,” y’all). The classic formula may have changed, but the kid went home with the T-shirt he wanted. Don’t they always?
THE DATSUNS at the Troubadour, September 21
Though the Jet-lagged garage-rock genre no longer flies first class, the Datsuns are still enjoying the ride. As their name implies, these Kiwi throwbacks are blissfully unaware that the ’80s and ’90s ever happened, plundering Led Zep, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy and the Who — via some disheveled Detroit disrespect — for a sound that’s barely their own but bristling with enthusiasm.
The Datsuns resemble your still-in-a-covers-band uncle, all unconditioned locks and too-tight threads, and have brought out the ironically cool retro-T-shirt brigade in numbers tonight. Their set leans heavily on their 2002 debut, The Datsuns— a disc that had the U.K. music press pissing their New Clothes — with just half a dozen from their new Outta Sight/Outta Mind. The fan faves “MF From Hell” and “Harmonic Generator” get faithful butts a-wiggling, but curious minds demand fresh fodder: “Messin’ Around” comes on with glam-pomp toms and vocal/guitar call-and-response; “Girls Best Friend” is the Datsuns at their most sub-Kinks melodic; “What I’ve Lost” is cunningly arranged nostalgia, while “Hong Kong Fury” is Sab/Zep hefty, as Darkness-esque guitarist Christian Datsun fully indulges his dinosaur-rock fixation between four-way chanted choruses.
Dolf Datsun’s semispoken vocals effectively wander around Robert Plant’s quivering wail, Christian’s ax agility is admirable, and the Datsuns deliver with a charming, raised-eyebrow sense of pantomime that thaws even the cynical L.A. set. Problem is, what was a rush of blood to the extremities over short sets two years ago is now a flimsy fabric of ideas stretched to see-through texture over 75 minutes. The Datsuns’ sound, old to start with, gets corpselike over the course of 16 tunes.
The Datsuns peddle pre-punk purism with heartwarming verve. But “genius”? They’d need a real thumbprint and more songwriting depth of field to merit that tag.
THE 188.8.131.52’s at Spaceland, September 21
As a rule, I prefer seeing bands that have already made a major impact on their local markets before they break onto the international stage — it weeds out a lot of bullshit. So when a Japanese friend who follows the Tokyo music scene said she’d never heard of the 184.108.40.206’s —
a J-girl surf-garage-rock threesome familiar to American audiences for their serendipitous cameo in Kill Bill, Vol. 1 — I prepared myself for disappointment. And when the band first kicked in, I was struck by the undeniable fact that musically the members couldn’t hold a tiki torch to local acts like the Blue Hawaiians, who have been creating surf-rock magic every godforsaken week for a decade at Lava Lounge. How were the drums? Moderately in-time. The bass? Ham-fisted. The guitar? Pretty sloppy Chuck Berry 101. The vocals? Alternately sharp or flat, and almost completely incomprehensible.
But fuck all that; the show was brilliant. From the 220.127.116.11’s’ original dirty surf tune “I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield” to their rollicking cover of the Shangri-Las’ “I’m Blue,” to an aggressively sliced, diced and julienned take on the Booker T. and the MG’s classic “Green Onions,” the entire set was an evangelical treatise on good music’s ability to transcend borders, languages, cultures and eras, and a crystal illustration of how rock plus the right amount of passion equals punk.
By the time the band kicked into Kill Bill’s “Woo Hoo” — whose entire lyric consists of the title’s brain-stemmed attempt at language atop the standard I-IV-V chord progression and hoary “At the Hop” riff (making a sing-along impossible to resist) — only the stewedest of prunes could resist the simple, manic rock & roll the 18.104.22.168’s had unleashed and the unchallengeable fact that Quentin Tarantino has excellent musical taste.
AUSTIN CITY LIMITS MUSIC FESTIVAL at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, September 17–19
Well into the Canadian collective Broken Social Scene’s alt-rock menagerie of songs about fags, lovers swapping spit and 17-year-old girls telling it like it is, I got word Friday from my buddy Parker, whom I was planning to hook up with while in town, that his wife had suffered a miscarriage. But all worries temporarily subsided with the positive vibrations emanating from a nearby stage via a white-leather-suited Toots and his Maytals, whose 1968 single “Do the Reggay” coined the genre. At the opposite end of the 15 acres of Zilker Park carved out between Town Lake and Barton Springs, pocketed by trees illuminated a mesmerizing shade of green, Ryan Adams worked a skeptical crowd with an unpretentious rendition of the Grateful Dead’s “Wharf Rat.” Local hermanos Los Lonely Boys closed day one with their poppy tejano blues; lead singer Henry Garza’s guitar work flowed, but lacked the grit to justify overheard comparisons to Stevie Ray Vaughan’s shredding. (Willie Nelson has taken the Lonelys under his wing; 30 years ago, he taped the first session of Austin City Limits, the PBS program whose producers put on the ACL Festival.) Yet no sign of Parker.
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