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
|Photo by Wild Don Lewis|
MATES OF STATE, AQUEDUCT, SMOOSH
at the Knitting Factory, February 19
If Hello Kitty lived in L.A., she definitely would have made this sold-out scene. (Think I saw the Little Twin Stars getting carded at the bar, though . . . ) It was the cutest concert in town: children in the audience; children onstage; girls, gimmicks and harmonies; hardly any guitars. (Jack Black says keyboards don’t rock, but oh how they do roll!)
Although Mates of State headlined, openers Smoosh pre-emptively stole the show. Two sisters from Seattle, ages 10 and 12, Smoosh play lovely, lyrical indiepop using a keyboard and drums. Yes, their youth is compelling, as is their androgynous resemblance to early Hanson, but these are real musicians with an important message of freedom, honesty and radness for all — their one rap song, radly titled “Rad,” features the winning chorus, “Uh huh uh huh yo! I’m rad!” (Note to the dudes screaming at them between songs: You are creepy.) Indie vet Eric Erlandson was overheard commenting, “There’s hope for the future.”
Heartbroken clowns Aqueduct represent the ultimate supergeek smackdown, led by a chubby guy in a plaid shirt on keyboards, no less. With nostalgia-tripping songs about girls and listening to Guns N’ Roses on the radio — and a cover of the Geto Boys’ “Damn It Feels Good To Be a Gangsta” — you wanted them to morph suddenly into 1990-era Ween. They didn’t, but their finale, an earnest cover of “Don’t Stop Believing,” felt all right.
Mates of State, a husband-wife drums-keys duo from S.F., got the most impassioned crowd response, which made this fan feel like a jerk for checking the clock after an hour of joyous piano pop. Confession: I’d come to hear my personal Song of the Year, an anthem to heroic love called “Drop and Anchor” — which theydidn’tplay.S’okay; I got Smooshed, and that’s what counts.
LOS TIGRES DEL NORTE
at Universal Amphitheater, February 11
The rain couldn’t stop the loyal fans in the cocked Tejanas(cowboy hats). With the tiger sound effects and tiger images on the video screen, we knew this would be a heavy night of puroSinaloa.
In shiny embroidered black outfits, the Tiger quintet — the Hernández brothers and their cousin Oscar — quickly roused the crowd, as front man Jorge attacked his accordion (one of six laid out on the stage) for “Contrabando y Traición,” the song that started the whole narco-corridosound. Brother Hernán, the one with the white skunk stripe in his hair, plucked his tricolorbass on the norteño“Rosita de Olivo,” which also featured boisterous sax from brother Eduardo. Although the brothers sing many bolerosrománticas,the staple of their sound is the polka-rooted norteño,which tells true tales like “Pacas de a Kilo” — a song about Sinaloa drug smuggling, peppered with machine-gun sound effects.
A woman walked up to guitarist Luis, the youngest member, and handed him a piece of paper; he handed it to Jorge, who read out the request for “También las Mujeres Pueden.” It’s a tradition, and that’s how Los Tigres played most of their 30-plus-year discography, including “Jefe de Jefes,” “Pedro y Pablo,” “De Paisano a Paisano,” “La Puerta Negra” and “La Sorpresa” (from the new DirectoalCorazón,dropping March 29). “That’s why we’re here, to sing your songs,” Jorge told the crowd. Not only did Los Tigres pose for every single cell-phone camera, Jorge even sang all of “La Camioneta Gris” into a fan’s cell. The peaks: the crowd favorite “La Puerta Negra,” and 1973’s “La Banda del Carro Rojo,” which brought back memories of this writer’s arrival from Mexico. The night ended with “La Jaula de Oro,” a classic tale of an immigrant trapped in a golden cage. It seemed to touch many — a young white couple even walked up to Jorge and shook his hand.