Even scarier than the zombie, vampire and cannibal flicks at SHOCK-O-RAMA A-GO-GO, a 24-hour horror-film and music fest at the cavernous PALACE THEATER downtown, was trying to watch ’em with rows of drunken, punk rock gore fiends getting rowdy. The freakiness kicked off with a bloody bang by monstrous rockers REBEL REBEL, whose demented antics featured singer JET JUPITER putting a cinder block on his spiked codpiece and breaking it — the block, that is — with a hammer. The theatrics continued with PENIS FLYTRAP (pictured), the latest project from 45 Grave’s DINAH CANCER, who hasn’t aged one bit, causing some fans to wonder if she’d sold her soul to the devil. Maybe not, but she did get fucked by him, according to one of her group’s more memorable tunes, during which a couple of gothed-out gals from east Hollywood strip house Cheetahs writhed and wrestled while the sinful songstress simulated sex with a bloody crucifix. We wondered if the films, including the deathly delights of Clive Barker and Lucio Fulci, as well as Pig, the movie about a masochist made by the late Rozz Williams of Christian Death, could live up, so to speak, to the sonic mayhem. The grueling gross-a-thon didn’t disappoint, especially when the overnighters, sipping alcohol out of colostomy bags, began to talk to the screen à la Mystery Science Theatre 3000. However, for all those hooch hounds in attendance, no doubt that morning’s light brought the fest’s most terrifying moments.
Sameness Becomes Eclectic
What began as a fine night of adult alternative pop rock at the WILTERN, where KCRW produced A SOUNDS ECLECTIC EVENING fund-raiser, finished with a bizarre after-party barroom brawl at the Atlas, where we wound up bloodied! But first the music. Countrified pop, albeit well-played, tended to homogenize the eclecticism, with the exception of OZOMATLI’s Latin jazz funk. Co-producer MITCHELL FRANK told us the musical monolith resulted because of cancellations by hip-hoppers such as DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist. Ah, well, next year. Meanwhile, the night belonged to SHELBY LYNNE, who enthralled KCRW DJ NIC HARCOURT’s gleaming 30-ish white-bread crowd with her doggedly midtempo, gospel-inflected country rock. The personably innocuous PETE YORN played C&W-influenced pop rock, and ELLIOTT SMITH deadpanned his own unique take on twangy Neil Young–isms, complete with slacker-chick pigtails. Digging the concert were writer IRIS BERRY with husband TONY MALONE; songbird FIONA APPLE; Hits magazine prez KAREN GLAUBER; PR guru CARY BAKER; and actresses CAMERON DIAZ,
JULIE DELPHY, KERI RUSSELL, MINNIE DRIVER, and TRACEY ULLMAN with MEG RYAN. The after-party dustup at the Atlas came while KCRW’s LIZA RICHARDSON was rockin’ the decks with WASP-y 135 bpm trancy-house beats. Suddenly, we found ourselves in a bad Western when a strangely giggly partygoer swept his arm across the bar, knocking over a bunch of glasses that shattered, sending shards everywhere, including one right into our hand. The five-deep crowd gawked in astonishment as the bartender sailed over the bar to bounce the still-snickering fellow right onto Wilshire. Maybe we shouldn’t have been discussing Satanic heavy metal with music-biz manager-attorney BRIAN MacPHERSON and superagent JACKSON HARING after all.
Introduced by MC MICHAEL LUCAS of the Phantom Surfers as “the man with the largest eyebrows in this room,” STEPHEN FRIEDLAND (a.k.a. BRUTE FORCE) did somewhat resemble the Anti–Neil Diamond, in his long-awaited return from oblivion at the recent SCRAMARAMA festival of cult bands held at the PALACE THEATER (evidently the venue for the offbeat these days). Musically, Brute Force’s elegant classical-piano flourishes and absurd lyrics in “Tapeworm of Love” and the urgently silly “To Sit on a Sandwich” came off more like the missing link between Sparks and the Bonzo Dog Band, and it was easy to see why the Beatles were so charmed by Friedland’s daft mad-professor persona that Apple Records released the banned “King of Fuh” (as in “the Fuh king”) single in 1967. Whether inventing a new rah-rah cheer for Hollywood or flippantly exploring the tonal possibilities of the alphabet, Brute Force was an utterly delightful revelation, as were other comebacks from the “where are they now?” file, such as the Music Machine’s SEAN BONNIWELL & RON EDGAR (with a literally spine-tingling version of the garage-punk nugget “Talk Talk”), eternally teenage bad girl NIKKI CORVETTE (backed by THE PINKZ), and Pittsburgh’s trash-rock kings, THE CYNICS, whose impish singer,
MICHAEL KASTELIC, allayed local fears of terrorism by declaring, “Your bridges are safe! Everyone continue on as normal — I’m leaving!” Noting the contrast between the small crowd of acolytes and the fading elegance of the gigantic and definitely haunted Palace Theater,
THE LOONS’ MIKE STAX remarked that it was like playing for 60 people and 5,940 ghosts.
Luckily, the ghosts had a good time.
The Inland Empire Strikes Back
Ashen buzz cut accenting his nicely contoured skull, a pink plastic baseball bat raised to ward off old grudge-keepers, KIM FOWLEY revisited Hollywood to host a showcase night at
HIGHLAND GROUNDS recently. The musical-promotional Frankenstein, perhaps best known as the creator of the cherry-bombin’ Runaways, has been garrisoned in the Inland Empire lately, keeping his usual ear to the ground, and he unleashed a torrent of Riverside and Redlands discoveries on an unsuspecting throng of lost souls. BRADLEY VAIL TURNER ditched teaching Catholic school to show off strong folk-wave songcraft and an equally strong tenor.
THE LOVE TONES femme duo, blurbed by Fowley as the offspring of Leslie Gore and the Everly Brothers, applied tight harmonies to the unregretful-sounding “My Boyfriend’s Gay.”
LAURA MARTIN, “Bette Davis breeds with the Scarecrow of Oz” in Fowley’s genealogy, brought down the house with “I Hate Country Music.” Dimpled 14-year-old ELIZABETH HEWITT belted ’n’ twanged an invitation to “tear down the fences,” if y’know what she means, before Dad Fowley admonished her to resume her homework. There’s always somebody who’s surrounded by admiring musicians after the audience has talked through his songs, and that guy was the braided and bespectacled PATRICK BRAYER, a poet and a true songwritin’ artist. In contrast, dead silence greeted Fowley’s demands for shout-outs from A&R and publishing reps in attendance, but he quickly suggested that must be ’cuz of industry types’ shyness, not absence. No point in discouraging the carnymeister’s passel of, as likes to call them, “dreamers hoping to become product.”