Never mind the falafel
You gotta love a joint that was named after a patch of pubic hair in a Botticelli painting.
Now, perhaps the Davis bungalow-based club Delta of Venus got its moniker elsewhere. Eh, who cares? On a recent Saturday night, the swell little venue provided a fine shelter from the storms barreling through the north state, with a three-band bill (four, if you count Acre, whatever that was) whose instrumental, guitar-driven arc owed much to the spirit of Lebanese-American guitar shredder Richard Mansour, better known as Dick Dale.
Kicking off the early show at just after 7 p.m. was the esteemed duo Art Lessing and the Flower Vato. On the opening number, Lessing’s effects-laden guitar-wizardry sounded like the soundtrack to a 1960s drug-education film that was only missing the echo-enhanced, laughably stentorian voice-over: “Marihuana, known on the street as ‘muggles’ or ‘reefer,’ an evil destroyer of sensible moral foundations is better left alone by upstanding citizens. Youth, beware!” The rest of Lessing’s set, propelled by the Flower Vato’s percussive antics, ventured into places closer to Zappa than exotica or Hugo Montenegro.
Up next was what looked like a speaker on a chair. I think it was billed as Acre, and I think there’s a joke here somewhere, as the crowd stayed in the room, with a few scratched chins attesting to this sonic light bulb’s power to draw fresh moths: “Hmm, I surmise there’s something significant here, and if I remain here long enough perhaps I can uncover its mystery. Further research may be warranted.” It’s nice to see there’s still an audience for unvarnished, bruised-scrotum noise. Throbbing Gristle lives!
Next, in a slight deviation from the evening’s Dick Dale trajectory, or a nod toward 3 Mustaphas 3, San Kazakgascar launched into its set. First, let’s get one thing straight—any band that takes the stage with a clarinet player gets a free pass from me. There should be more clarinets on local club stages, in fact; lots more. And Mike Woo brought the licorice-stick action. That said, it’s a dangerous world, and why risk getting your junk blown off in the Middle East when you can venture across the Causeway to catch what sounds like Pee-Wee Herman fronting Camper Van Beethoven, attacking a song slightly reminiscent of the Doors’ “Not to Touch the Earth” with the élan of several hopped-up, qat-chewing Trucial States businessmen? Dunno about you, but that one’s a no-brainer. You gotta go with the Kaz.
Next up: Southern California quintet Savage Republic, one of the bright spots of the 1980s indie-rock revolution that wasn’t hairdresser-friendly enough for MTV. Such founding members as letterpress graphic artist Bruce Licher and Phil “Jackson Del Ray” Drucker may be long gone, but most of this lineup—Thom Fuhrman, Greg Grunke and Ethan Port—has been around since 1983 through the band’s original disbanding in 1989, and it’s a good thing they reformed. Jello Biafra used to say that the future of music was Islamic speed metal, and this band’s tribal din may not boast muscle-car acceleration, but it’s definitely channeled ol’ Dick Dale’s Casbah-rocking mettle; one song even sounded like the Chantays’ “Pipeline” played sideways.