When The Surrenders played a cover of The Cramps' "Human Fly" backed-up against cover-of-a-cover "Sufin' Bird," it didn't sound as though the local jazzy rock trio had learned the songs two hours earlier. In fact, singer/guitarist Amit Itelman taught it to drummer Andrew Barrett on the sidewalk outside of Hyperion Tavern, where Club Ding-a-Ling, the weekly party promoted by Don Bolles of The Germs, hosted the Lux Interior Memorial Record Hop. The band's bassist, Jeremy Kerner, figured out the nuts and bolts of the songs on stage.
"We got this [gig] the night before Lux died. Then we realized that it was a Cramps tribute," Itelman explained. "Luckily, I'm a huge Cramps fan."
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That The Surrenders not only had the balls to play two songs they had just learned, but did it with all of the energy of punk stalwarts is indicative of the Cramps' legacy in Los Angeles. With little more than a few rounds of MySpace bulletin reposting, the Hyperion Tavern was packed to a point where movement was limited to removing one's elbow from someone else's side. L.A. punk elders mingled with the new generation of rock 'n' roll rebels and somewhere in the midst of that was twisting, shouting and even a little moshing (courtesy of surf-garage band Thee Cormans).
Howie Pyro (D Generation, Danzig) arrived armed with a 7" collection that could make even diehard record collectors tear a little. In keeping with the theme, he played tunes of a Cramps-approved vintage and plenty of songs that the band had infamously covered. When Pyro scratched and flanged his way through The Trashmen's version of "Surfin' Bird," the dance floor that could maybe fit ten people comfortably flooded with leopard-print bodies. As a surprise highlight of the night, Simon Stokes performed "Mini Skirt Blues," a song he wrote and recorded as The Flower Children and was later covered by The Cramps, with Sean Wheeler of Throw Rag. Rock 'n' roll past, present and future lived inside Club Ding-a-Ling last night, forming a haphazardly beautiful tableaux that shouldn't only exist when someone passes.