I arrived at the BB around 8:45 PM and found the place already somewhat full. Ran into some friends I hadn’t seen in a while: Kipper, who was DJing, Justin from Silverbird/Counterfit, and Tony from Fever Sleeves. Justin seems to be doing well and is excited about getting Silverbird out on the road. I’m excited for him, too.
By 9:15, the bar area was completely full, a fact that may or may not have had something to do with Nathan Black’s assertions that cover and booze was free before 10 PM. It was, sort of: the booze was being given away along with a promotion by Camel cigarettes. If you smoke, this doesn’t present an ethical quandary. For some of us, telling us we get free booze for signing up on Camel’s mailing list is like asking us to join NAMBLA for a $10 rebate on our next gas fillup.
Tonight we were all victims of the “amazing added band” trick. The band in question is Alarma, from Los Angeles. Tony from Fever Sleeves correctly pointed out that their drummer looks an awful lot like Bill Lumbergh from Office Space. The other dudes look, well, like dudes in a band from LA that write songs about wanting to fuck women when they’re high. That’s the main lyric from their second song: “I wanna fuck you when your high.” Oh yeah, I think they also said, “I’m gonna feed you drugs,” but that part might not be a direct quote.
Creepy lyrics aside, this band’s chief concern should be getting to the point a little more quickly. It took until their fourth song for them to stumble upon a decent groove and riff. Thankfully, from that point forward the band loosened the groove and came off as aping early Zeppelin instead of aimlessly meandering through soulless coke rock (cat dirt called it out; this hipster embrace of 80s Sunset Strip culture is pretty humorous, though not without its own logic–vapid is as vapid does). Maybe that’s the vibe they’re going for. If so, good for them. They nailed it. As with most Beauty Bar crowds who aren’t watching exactly what they came to see, they welcomed the band with stunned indifference.
The Bronx was another story. As I’ve said before, the Bronx are a quintessential Casbah band and tonight’s crowd proved it. Let’s just say that the Beauty Bar has never exprienced quite so high a concentration of large dudes with black t-shirts who don’t give a rat’s ass about Marc Jacobs before. The Bronx are known for being confrontational and singer Matt Caughthran doesn’t seem happy until he’s got the crowd worked into a real frenzy, which took approximately two seconds from when they hit the stage. “It’s been a while since we’ve played, especially here in the United States,” he said. A moment later, the band charged into “Heart Attack American,” and the burly crowd launched as if spring-loaded toward him. Mid-song he leaned down and grabbed me by the throat/collar, using me for ballast as he leaned out over the churning mass in front of him. Troy Johnson was in there for a while–I lost track of him pretty quickly, however. I’m pretty sure he didn’t whip out his spin kicks or floor punches, but you never know.
Pic courtesy of Rosey at sdialedin.com
I turned to the security guard who was stationed at the back of the pit and asked if anyone had warned them how it would be on a night like this. “No, but I’m prepared for anything,” was his reply. Though I think he firmly believes that, it occurred to me at the moment that he was basically out there on an island. On a night like that the Casbah will have four or five extra security people on hand just in case things get too wild. I get the impression that one of the facets of being a younger venue is learning that kind of thing as you go, a process that will no doubt be slowed somewhat by the fact that different promoters are at the helm almost every night. Still, Mr. Security Guard gets big points for simply, but firmly, telling a crowd surfer to stop without physically engaging him or acting like a dick. Good on you, should you stumble across this.
The Bronx are not without good humor, however. About four songs in, Caughthran stopped to thank the event’s sponsor. Affecting a fake, half-country accent, he said, “I’d like to thank all the people at Camel for all the sort-of free booze and the lots of free cigarettes–but mostly cigarettes,” he deadpanned, getting lots of good natured laughs from the crowd. Pretty quickly the scrum was back on, as the band went into “Your Shitty Future.”
Though their set was fun and energetic, it did sound like they were working off–if not rust–then a coat of dust. They weren’t particularly loose–these guys never are–but I’ve seen them play tighter. Then again, given the active crowd, semi-free booze and backyard house party atmosphere, tightness really wasn’t the order of the day. Ken Horne (formerly of the Dragons) is on guitar, too, though most of the time I couldn’t really get righted enough to tell whether he was a necessary addition to Jobi Ford. There will be pics added to this post later (damn that cable!), so check back to see if your lovely face made it.
PS: I didn’t stick around for Gods Girls.