Pre- and Postmodern
L.A. WEEKLY DETOUR FEST, FEATURING QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, BECK, PEEPING TOM, BASEMENT JAXX, RED KROSS and others?in the streets of downtown L.A., October 7
Thirty years back, many a bettor would have lost his piggy bank prognosticating that soul, rock and megathump would not continue to roil the masses in the year 2006. But even if present music looks much like past, the swarms around Detour’s four stages and 23 acts can tell you some deep new grooves are also getting dug. And leaps in tech sure make it all sound a whole lot cleaner.
Sun still hot, streets already hivelike in late afternoon, Blackalicious jolted the 99.7 percent Caucasoid throng with their funktwangy hip-hop exorcise, getting freaky with effects, zooming out femme soul wails (a theme of the day) and demonstrating that stab-ass beats don’t preclude the MC from sporting a striped polo shirt. Kids connected with the nervous energy of Oh No! Oh My!, whose driving falsetto pop and bright Kinksy bounce disguised black underwear — “Nice day for a drive-by shooting,” sonny. Most likely to encourage acid use and limb undulations: the New Romantic reggae of Blonde Redhead, lulling with fest-friendly simplicity and breaking down into sensual marshmallow assault.
Stage lights sparkled as daylight faded on Redd Kross, but the sun never sets on the McDonald brothers’ quarter-century of SoCal Brit-pop, so giddy, so sweet, so fabulously rockable; Go-Go Jane Wiedlin shook tail amid the crowd, and when Kross guitar cadaver Robert Hecker, introducing “Girl God,” wondered who’d be our choice if we could vote for Deity, some dude yelled, “Mothra!” Competition in the retro sweepstakes arrived via the ’70s soul-rock, country-rock and rock-rock meaningfulness of the Elected, who came off more denimy than even Delaney and boldly purloined Ron Wood’s best guitar licks.
St. Vibiana was a fourth-century martyr flogged to death for refusing a life of whoredom, so she must’ve shuddered to see her church housing a major rave, with lewd conduct abounding and DJs such as Weird Science and Shepard Fairey generating nonstop unholy seismic thump. Shameful enough to drive you off the saggy leather couches and into the streets for some Nebraskan’s idea of a burrito, some Oregonian’s idea of a burger or some Dutchman’s (better) idea of a beer.
The Basement Jaxx urged aerobic activity, and many in the now overflowing dinnertime mob risked their suds to engage with the theatrical Brixton discophiles’ soul-mama testimony and gargantuan four-on-the-floor. More intellectual but just as rhythm-heavy was the techno-meets-mariachi wizardry of the Nortec Collective — viva los laptops, amigos! Big thunder from Peeping Tom, whose mystical riddim & soul, booming out from a stage fog bank, backdropped by urban megaliths and illuminated by a full moon glaring down like God’s prison spotlight, came off as truly apocalyptic.
Not too proud to open with “Loser” or to pump out his ironic yet wonderfully proficient arsenal of time-tested urban grooves, Beck nevertheless rebelled against his continued popularity with the absurdist puppet show he’s been inflicting lately, which stimulated considerable puzzlement and boredom. What comes after postmodern? Modern again? Or just old?
Queens of the Stone Age rock for real, no irony, but that don’t mean they lack laffs. “Well, we got it out of the way, huh?” commented manly yet sensitive singer-guitarist Josh Homme early in his torrid set after blasting out a compact rendition of the Queens’ riff-driven hit, “No One Knows.” Then, prodded by ombudsmusician Alain Johannes on batball bass, he got down to the business of jamming wild and true, 1968-style, on faves like “Do It Again” and “Burn the Witch,” tapping the limitless spirit of the desert on and on till the legions bobbing stagefront and the simians hanging from trees in the park across the way swore they could hear coyotes howling in their heads.
For more on Detour, see the Style Council blog at laweekly.com.
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