Blinding flashes of duh

Made the mistake of getting in the car one morning last week for the usual commute and not checking to see what CD was loaded to play. Lately, I’ve been on this serene 20th-century American classical kick—Hovhaness, Barber, Ives—so I figured something along those lines would gently fire up for the commute. But the night before, I’d stopped by Skinner Davis and Kristie Harris’ pad for some vegan Indian chow, and they gave me their band Iguanadon’s new CD, We Rÿde Tonyte (, which I’d cranked hard for the ride home.

Now, accelerating onto a congested freeway to the tune of industrial-strength guitar slop is a bit different than the same experience with cellos and violins. For one thing, it makes a driver slightly more aggressive: “Jukkajukkajukka squeeee—whoa, this dildo’s cuttin’ in my lane—'mumble mumble hail Say-tannn!’ chumchumchum—up yours, Jack, no frickin’ way—rooaaarrrr ‘tonight we ride!’ squeeee!” Not sure what the CHP opinion is on Iguanadon yet, but blasting We Rÿde Tonyte certainly made me a more alert driver. I’d recommend it to everyone.

Anyway, last Saturday night, Iguanadon—Skinner on guitar and vocals, the amazing Harris on drums and Dan Herrera on bass—played a CD release party at the Old Sac cellar dive Willemina’s. Opening was Sacramento, the band (, which, despite not having its twin-guitar assault sufficiently cranked, nevertheless pumped out a remarkable string of should-be hits, with titles like “Chop Your Dick Off” and “Dude Party.” It was like seeing some weird vintage Montrose-MC5 meld fronted by a singer, Jonny B., who combined the better aspects of Meat Loaf and Gilbert Gottfried into Sam Kinison-like carnival-barking perfection. For added enjoyment, a stripper worked the wooden pole in front of the stage area. I highly recommend that all local bands add something along these lines to their presentations, too.

Iguanadon followed, without a stripper. Nevertheless, Skinner and Herrera were sporting some nice graveyard-defiling hoodies, and by the second song, Skinner’s black shoe-polish stubble was smeared all over his lower face, making him look like some weird black-metal Al Jolson. And, like Jolson, Skinner is an irrepressible performer, with an arsenal of spectral howls and guttural cookie-monster chants accompanied by monster riffage and beatweeny guitar solos on his pointy-headstock Jackson.

Even given Skinner’s flair for showmanship, though, the focal point of Iguanadon is drummer Harris, who flails like a demon possessed, grinning like a jackal the entire set. What a goddess.

Not long after Iguanadon finished, the headliner, the Maxxx, started playing to a packed house; apparently a wedding party stumbled into the place. It wouldn’t be fair to review a band, even one with a good sense of humor, which followed in the wake of such grave-robbing cartoon-metal genius. Perhaps some other time.

The following night, Kevin Seconds’ new band, the Altruistics, played Old Ironsides (opening for the Avengers) with Brian Hanover on guitar, Shawn Hale on bass and Steve Smith on drums. To say this is a band to watch would be an understatement. These lads kicked major arse. Look for ’em, eh?