Fever got me burnin’

Damn sinus infection kept me fromjoining Iguanadon singer/guitarist Skinner in checking out the debut of Church Burner on a recent Monday night at On the Y. The following night I passed out while watching This Is Spinal Tap, and later commenced babbling a bunch of fever-baked nonsense to my roommate: “Make sure there’s a genuine Canadian dressed in a Mountie uniform at my funeral, reading Robert W. Service’s poem, “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” I mumbled from the couch. “And make sure Herb Alpert & the Tijuana BrassGreatest Hits gets played in its entirety.”

Apparently I lived, much to the consternation of a few disgruntled Dixieland jazz enthusiasts.

Saturday night brought a three-trio lineup at Old Ironsides, all of them fronted by women. Opener Amy Cooper finally landed a local audience she could knock out; she was followed by an amazing three-woman combo from San Antonio, Girl in a Coma. But it was the evening’s headliner, Red Host, which threw this humble scribe for a serious loop.

Ahem. Now, I’ve rotted my mind in front of enough television sets over several decades, much of that time watching such stellar sitcom fare as Get Smart. Part of that show’s appeal was Maxwell Smart’s sidekick, Agent 99, played by the lovely Barbara Feldon. Good enough. But take Agent 99, have artist Charles Burns redraw her as a blank-eyed beauty who’s just emerged from a crypt to avenge a lifetime of evil deeds, place a smoking Telecaster into her hands and plug it into a Marshall amp, and you pretty much have Red Host frontwoman Chelsea Wolfe.

Joined onstage by an animated bassist, Ian Bone, and a drummer, Jess Gowrie, whose ferocity belied her compact frame, the statuesque Wolfe whipped through a set of high-volume rock noise that married the sonic molten-lava onslaught of Sabbath-sourced stoner rock to a more modern framework—one informed by such icons as P.J. Harvey, the Jesus and Mary Chain and others. Coming on the heels of a deliciously complex set by Girl in a Coma, which sounded like something David Lynch could use, should he ever decide to make a film about punk rockers in a Texas woman’s prison, it was hard to imagine Red Host delivering a set to match. Wolfe’s voice may not be a classic metal sound, but it has a natural heft that soars over a wall of guitar noise with lupine grace. Color me utterly smitten. Check out www.myspace.com/redhost (or www.myspace.com/chelseawolfe to hear the singer in a completely different context).

A few don’t-miss shows: New local favorites the Ancient Sons will be appearing on Thursday, June 21, at Marilyn’s on K with Aussie band the Lovetones and L.A. combo the Quarter After; show starts at 8 p.m. and admission is $7. Also, Red Tyger Church will be playing the Press Club on Sunday, June 24, at 4 p.m., with Rock the Light, the Makes Nice (from San Francisco) and Night Gown. Cover’s $5.

And don’t forget to mark those calendars for Friday, July 13, when Red Host and Iguanadon appear together at the Distillery. Dunno if Gowrie and Iguanadon’s Kristie Harris will be having a drumming battle royale between sets, but it might be a swell idea.