Little Steven’s Underground Garage-A-Go-Go – 9/06/06 – Avalon Ballroom, Hollywood
Little Steven’s Underground Garage-A-Go-Go pulled into Hollywood on Wednesday Night to spread the word, and preach the gospel of real rock n roll. With music getting crappier every year, Little Steven is saving the day, bringing REAL, RAW, sweaty rock n roll to the masses. This lineup featured The Zombies as headliner, Phantom Planet, The Mooney Suzuki, The Woggles and the Holograms. I’ll keep it brief, as not to make this look like some sort of Rolling Stone review
First up : The Holograms : They get better (and more Asian) every time I see them, and now have that onstage confidence that was missing the last time I saw them. Like a Hello Kitty version of The Go-Go’s, only brattier. Their record “land of 1000 Ex-Boyfriends” is on Teenacide Records
Check it out.
Next: The Woggles. The Woggles feature the Mighty Manfred from Little Steven’s Underground Garage channel on Sirius Satellite Radio, which by the way was not mentioned AT ALL this night…maybe because the sponser was KLOS ? Anyway, The Woggles do it authentic 60’s style, complete with coreographed moves, and the Might Manfred puts out 110% onstage…seriously, the guy is manic. He was in the crowd, he was onstage, everywhere….alot of energy and their “Kinks with a little bit o soul” style sounded great.
Next : The Mooney Suzuki…One of those Rolling Stone/Spin Magazine “important” bands of the moment, they rocked pretty hard, and managed to live up to the hype, unlike alot of bands. As I keep hearing these guys, their songwriting seems to keep getting better, and their direction more 70’s boogie rock, than the 60’s garage sound of the earlier stuff.
They kicked ass, and were flying all over the stage while they were doing it. Beats the hell out of those dreaded shoegazer bands of the 90’s…makes me think that maybe there is some hope left, if more bands are doing this sort of thing. Highlight of the set was a new song called 99%. Very BTO…which is more than fine with me.(really, it is)
Next : Phantom Planet – Authors of that dreaded “California” song from tv show THE OC (kidding, I actually like that song, I’ve just heard it an awful lot), Phantom Planet did their geek pop/emo/whatever you call it these days thing and they were pretty good at it..not great songs, but the fact that they can actually play is refreshing in itself. Not your standard 3 chord Green Day in a can kind of a band…
They did their best to bring the energy but, after The Woggles and The Mooney Suzuki, it was tame by comparison.
And finally…The Zombies – After standing for something like 3 1/2 hours, my old legs were ready to limp home, but, being that I came to see the Zombies, I’d have to endure another 45 min or so. Typically, when an classic 60’s band does the reunion thing, it’s usually like this…One or two original members from the classic lineup, and some other “cats” filling in.
The other guys are usually those session “cats” with really modern equipment (the most common one is the “headless guitar” ie: Steinberger or some other hi tech crap), and they usually play like the guys in Toto…you know, that 80’s session “in the pocket”, “tasty” kind of playing…the drums are always spot on, the guitarist plays a strat through some really hi tech stuff, and busts into those Steve Lukatherian shred licks, the kind you hear in a G.I.T instructional video, or Paul Schaffer’s band…gross!
Unfortunately, the Zombies followed suit. The bass player was the original guy from the first Zombies records (and played with the Kinks in the 70’s) and his SON was the session “cat” drummer….I had to endure him overplaying the Zombies biggest hit “Time of the Season” with all those tricky session “cat” drum licks, like Neil peart was playing it, only when Neil Peart does it, it works, because RUSH’s music is all about that. That coupled with a guitarist who played with Dave Stewart (Eurythmics)…great, just great.
Also disappointing was the too fast, almost disco version of “Hold Your head Up”, tho’ it was saved by Rod Argent’s keyboard genius. BUT, and there always has to be a BUT…
When they finally got to the “Odyssey and Oracle” section of the show, it got good, most notably “care of Cell 44”,my personal favorite by them. It was joyous to hear that song live, and that and “Rose for Emily” made enduring all the noodling worth it. Colin Bluntstone sounded great, and the goosebumps made their appearance on the back of my neck, which is what great pop like that has the ability to do.
If only more of the touring classic bands would take Brian Wilson’s lead of hiring the right people for the job. ie: geeks who worship them and play all the correct gear, and respect the songs enough to recreate them in the way they were performed in the first place. Paul McCartney has since followed suit, and now we don’t have to endure some Steely Dan reject playing “tasty” studio cat solos in place of our most treasured George Harrison masterpieces.
Anyway, overall, it was a great show, and thank someone (Buddah, Moses, Jesus…pick the deity of your choice) that Little Steven is bringing this music to the masses…I mean, it’s so great that folks have an alternative to Fallout Boy, My Chemical Romance, 50 cent and all the other crap MTV is spewing between it’s vapid reality shows, and other non music related garbage.
All that AND he’s Silvio Dante from the Sopranos !
Sidebar : Dial “H” for Hipster, dial “P” for Poser.
In between sets I got myself into an interesting conversation about some of the bands on the bill with someone who I’ve since dubbed “The textbook Hipster”.
If you don’t live in LA, I’m sure you have your own version of this guy in your local urban jungle, but in LA there are these guys….Textbook Hipsters….Textbook Hipsters have a rulebook they follow. In this rulebook, there are chapters about clothes, music, and the mandatory “vibe” and attitiude”. They live in Silverlake, Los Feliz, and Echo Park (well, the more daring ones do).
I don’t know where you purchase such a book, but then again, I’m not one of them. There’s no bookstore on Melrose selling these things, but I can tell you one thing, they all read the same book.
Hipsters dress really retro (usually 70’s, sometimes 60’s), have the Silverlake hair (last year it was that Badfinger Shag, this year it’s the mandatory beard), and listen to obscure records on vinyl, and if you’re REALLY cool, you have the “ironic” cheesy records in your record collection, like… Pat Benetar, Quarterflash, and some other 80’s homogenized crap, that’s been dismissed by the masses, but since everyone makes fun of it, you have to have in your collection to be “against the grain”. Of course you think it’s crap too, but you have to have that sense of faux irony, it’s part of the deal.
In this instance, the conversation got into the bands on the bill….Having just been blown away by The Woggles, and singer, the Mighty Manfred’s intense energy, I was spouting on about how great I thought they were to the Textbook Hipster in question. His reply was something along the lines of…”I don’t know man, I mean, they did all this goofy coreography, they seemed so forced” which I replied “yea, but their thing is that they like to keep it really authentic to the 60’s garage bands, and those early garage bands DID all that goofy coreography stuff, because they were into that whole Motown thing…it was the 60’s, that’s how bands put on a show”
Then he commented that , “… I don’t know, someone in that band looks like they needed to get strung out on junk or somethin” …meaning, hey, the gutarist is a bit of a fat guy, he needs to drop some weight so he has that Rock n Roll, junkie look. Meanwhile, he’s jumping all over the place, cutting his hand open and bleeding all over his guitars, while he’s playing the shit out of them, I may add, and yet, he needs to get addicted to junk, so he “Looks cool”. He then went on to say that he liked The Mooney Suzuki better, cos the singer had a “New York Dolls vibe”, and they had that “really raw, rock n roll thing goin on”.
And there it was…The mandatory name dropping of “influencial” bands dubbed “important” by rags like Spin and Rolling Stone. The New York Dolls…easily one of the most overrated bands of all time, but hey, they looked trashy, and did lots of dope, so they must be cool. Add The Velvet Underground,The Stooges, and the Stones (maaan) to that list, and you have all your Hipster influences intact. Of course, the Textbook Hipster’s favorite Beatle is John, cos Paul is so Pop, and John was more “radical”.
Anyway…Imagine saying something as stupid as “I think someone in that band needs to get addicted to junk”. Yea, tell that to all the people who lost a friend, lover, or family member to that stupid crap. Not to get all D.A.R.E on you, but what does any of that have to do with rock n roll.
Well, to the textbook hipster…everything.
Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest…I feel better now.
Hey, go buy a Woggles record, and listen to a fat guy kick your ass on guitar.
Also, buy the new Mooney Suzuki record too, but don’t tell anyone, cos their too “mainstream” now.
Sorry, this got very longwinded and Rolling Stone review-like…My apologies.If you’e actually gotten to this part, I’ve actually held your interest…unbelieveable!
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