Grab life by the horns
One night, my sainted mum roped me into watching bad TV with her. Well, not the whole night; just a double-header of The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. The crux of the matter was that I was scribbled to the scrote on a reasonably serious dose of blotter acid, so it only seemed like a long time.
That Love Boat episode was pretty uneventful, but by the time Fantasy Island began I was unhinged, and my mother had morphed into an animated Japanese bonsai tree. I was having big trouble deciphering the subtext underpinning the dialogue between Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban) and Tattoo (Hervé Villechaize), but Bonsai Mom was there, sweetly arranging her green pompoms in various semaphore letters to add needed information.
Where it got problematic was when Tattoo would point skyward and cry, “De plane, boss, de plane!” and then the room would be filled with a roarrrrrr so loud it knocked our drinks off the table.
I don’t like loud noises as a result, so that’s why I skipped this year’s NorCal NoiseFest: fear of Fantasy Island flashbacks. (Editor’s note: See Jeff McCrory’s report on page 64.) Actually, I was hurting like a big, fat, emo pussy and didn’t want to get even more depressed by random industrial sonic detritus, so I waited until Sunday night to go out, and then went to, well, Old Ironsides.
Where to start. Lessee, um, musically, the evening was like one long Dodge Ram truck commercial, an endless popping bass riff that sounded like a Bootsy Collins tutorial at a Parliament-Funkadelic buttshaker summer camp for aimless suburban youth. The bands changed, but the bomp-bomp-diddy-bomp didn’t.
The first band, the Nuance (www.myspace.com/thebandnuance), featured Old I soundman Lare Crawley on bass. There was a cellist, Donny Utah, who looked like he should be working in a golf pro shop, and singer J. Pettyjohn had a decent voice. The groove was pleasant in an oaty-funk sort of way, but whatever melodic content was present in the songs evaporated as soon as those songs ended.
Next up was Private Criminals (www.myspace.com/privatecriminals), which brought the waka jawaka. Davis Kahle’s bass dominated the mix, with singer-guitarist Nick Matteis working the chicken-scratch action, albeit with vocals from the Eddie Vedder school of lounge testifying. Now, funk is a good thing, and these guys had a relentless groove at times. But two reasons that made those ’70s funkateers so compelling were, first, horn sections, and second, actual songs, neither of which were in effect here.
I Scream on Sundae (www.myspace.com/iscreamonsundae) did bring a horn section. The band had a bass player named Ray who continued the evening’s Ram tough theme. It had a singer named Michael R.J., whose very entertaining shtick belied a strong drama-department pedigree. But Sundae’s métier was, um, ska, that rollicking clown-music genre that makes people who look like ugly fish dance all crazy like ignited insurance salesmen. Or, even more grim, ska mated with music from a lost sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Gentle writer was not amused.
I didn’t make it to Arden Park Roots. I’m sorry, lads, but I paid my eight bucks, and that gives me license to leave whenever things get particularly stinky. And boy, oh boy, were those trombones flatulent.
When you’re sitting with the show’s promoter, laughing at the ratio of baseball caps on men vs. no hats, and you notice that most of those caps are rocked backward, like a Kevin Federline approximation of Goober Pyle chic, and then you notice that more than a few of the women look like Tila Tequila understudies, well, gosh darn. Perhaps it’s time to find a new line of work.
More on that next week. Stay tuned.