Life in hell

That’s it. I’m convinced. When Warner Bros. Records signed Paris Hilton, which resulted in the no-talent celebrity whore’s debut album being released last Tuesday, I’d had an inkling that we may be dead already, that we’ve been watching this grim tableau of life in Bushworld dystopia unravel daily from our new address in hell. But the appearance of Britney Spears’ no-talent wigga rapper hubby Kevin Federline on the Teen Choice Awards on Sunday sealed the deal. Jeebus Chrysler on a crutch, what the hell? Are we toast or what? Should I just give up and get a job riding a short bus around Los Angeles, transcribing the utterances of special-ed students to generate lyrics for the next Black Eyed Peas and Pussycat Dolls hits?

Anyway, last Saturday night, already having a pretty good idea that we’ve been punk’d by Peetie Wheatstraw’s father in law, I sought out the most devilish entertainment I could find. As far as venues go, Fools Foundation at 19th and K streets is perfect; there’s nothing like cinderblock walls and a low concrete basement ceiling to really bring out the best in a band’s sound. Totimoshi, from San Francisco, was listed as the evening’s headliner. But, according to Skinner, local artist and frontman for the power trio Iguanadon, because of some vague, undefined episode of “Spinal Tappery,” Totimoshi wouldn’t be showing up, leaving the entertainment to the locals.

A drum-and-bass combo opened the show—no, not a laptop electronic setup, but a drummer and a bass player. The drummer whacked hard, and the bassist alternated playing clean with distorting his sound through a fuzzbox for three numbers, while Gus—a 1976 Disney babysitter featuring Ed Asner and Don Knotts—was projected on a sheet behind the duo.

During a long intermission, a shy but clearly scribbled woman furtively seized the mic and sang a faux-Appalachian paean to her favorite vintner, Carlo Rossi. Then she skulked away, the stairwell filled with dry-ice smoke, and the backdrop was turned around, revealing a lurid horror-comix banner painted by Skinner: Iguanadon!

Skinner, wearing a hoodie, began chunking out barre-chord riffs on a red, pointy-headstock electric guitar of indeterminate make, while Dan Herrera, with fake elf, or Spock, ears glued under his long hair, kept pace on his bass, and Kristie Harris—who looked like a demon-possessed cross between young Tracy Partridge and Old Ironsides proprietor Kim Kanelos and drummed like the devil, too—flailed behind them.

I would like to tell you that Iguanadon achieved Yog Sothothic majesty, that its music compelled me to drop to all fours and bark like devil dog, hound from hell. Skinner’s former band the Little People had that quality, but his new band still has a way to go. In his former band, vocalist Skinner, sans guitar, was free to spazz about with diabolical abandon, but here he was trapped behind a mic with a guitar, which limited his mobility. His guitar chunking lacked the requisite “squing-squong” and “squeeeee” metal tones, and he fell back on a Geoff Tate falsetto once too often.

Still, Iguanadon’s art-damage metal got the small crowd to do a hopping St. Vitus dance, which certainly gave this sardonic observer a devilish smile.