It’s Testors for the bestest buzz
I tried not to mention that bar again.
But screw it. When the Trouble Makers are playing one of their periodic anniversary shows—this one, their 15th, last Friday—and it happens to be at Old Ironsides, well, whaddaya gonna do?
Unfortunately, didn’t make it in time to catch the Pizzas, Matt K. Shrugg’s trés-nifty combo. The middle band was the Rippers, hailing from Sardinia, a Mediterranean island between Corsica and Sicily. Imagine an Ed “Big Daddy” Roth cartoon of a Moon-equipped, Maltese cross-bedeviled ’60s hot-rod garage-rock band all hopped up on Cokes, beers and Hostess snack cakes, pumping out a relentless sonic wall of fuzz, wah and snarl. “These guys make me want to sniff some glue,” I mumbled to Trouble Makers bassist Stan Tindall, who blinked impassively, and frontman Tim Foster, who chuckled before adding that the Rippers sounded like the Makers, a deified ’90s band of ’60s revivalists from Spokane, Wash. Not that huffing glue is ever a great idea, but given the Rippers’ nonstop Pebbles jukebox blast, it kinda made sense at the time.
Somehow, years ago, a Trouble Makers tape, dubbed on a thrift-store tape deck using the tape that came with it, found its way to Sardinia and the ears of the Rippers, and a long-distance friendship was formed. Which, in the insular world of ’60s garage-rock obsessives, isn’t a strange story. You can grok these Sardinians at www.myspace.com/therippersinaction.
After a short break, the Trouble Makers began—Foster on vocals and harmonica, guitarist Rodney Cornelius, drummer Brian Machado and Tindall. The Rippers were a formidable act to follow, and the Trouble Makers gave it a valiant shot, but on some nights, you’re preceded by an unbeatable showstopper. Nevertheless, unintelligible noise was made, at least one microphone was totaled and the evening ended with the ritual dismantling of Machado’s drum kit, with Foster grabbing the kick drum and running outside, while what was left onstage got pummeled by the remaining band members and a few drunks from the crowd who’d been providing guerrilla vocals on the band’s final numbers.
I’d stumbled into Old I in a slightly blue funk, and running into a former co-worker who was three sheets to the wind and in an ebullient, hugging mood didn’t help. “You’re too negative, man!” he gushed wetly. “The world is a beautiful place! Concentrate on the positive!” Funny, I was concentrating on the positive, now pumping from the amps onstage. Yes, there’s nothing like the power of concentrated fuzztone yow-yow to put a smile back on your face.
Stuff at Harlow’s: On Thursday, April 3, San Francisco’s American Music Club fronted by the brilliant songwriter Mark Eitzel, whose angst-flavored poetic musings are mated to a Bacharach-like sophistication, which his band illustrates with imaginative sonic color.
Then, on Wednesday, April 9, the Stilts—local singer-songwriter Christopher Fairman’s new self-described “psychedelic” band—with Ricky Berger, Be Brave Bold Robot and the Happy Medium also on the bill. The Stilts feature Fairman with a tantalizing combination of guitarists Mike Farrell and Nick York, along with bassist Jonathan Hischke and drummer Matt McCord. So go already.