Fuckaroos, Sandwitches, Earth Girl Helen Brown, Sonny & the Sunsets
April 2, 2011
@ Amnesia Bar
Better than: Pulling
the mask off the old Lone Ranger.
It seems everyone's tired of hipsters, but no one's tired of complaining about them but me. You can scarce swing a dead laptop anymore without clouting some self-righteous geezer frothing in his Polident over how the effed-up Youth of Today are effing up oldtime rock and country music by liking and making it. But here I must deploy my redneck card, and make the claim that descent from a long line of Appalachian mountaineers etches hoedown into one's very DNA. While there might've been irony present in the yawl-come proceedings last Saturday night at Amnesia, there was little suitable distance for it to flourish inside a mass of writhing, jumping bodies unironically happy and throwing down.
The venue is a friendly old squeezebox of a bar with a tiny stage in the back; the kind of wood-and-plaster cranny that would seem cramped with a dozen or so barflies milling about. Music was to begin at nine, but ten came and went with no more than a brief soundcheck. The place began to fill with twentyish singles in varying stages of beery conviviality and flirtatiousness, so everywhere set in the kind of loose goodnatured fun people simply don't have back in my longtime L.A. stomping ground. Finally, at about ten-thirty, The Fuckaroos crowded the stage and began wailing. A septet comprised of every other act on the bill, this agglomeration leaned into a selection of goofy trucker country tunes highlighted by cute lyrics and exquisite pedal steel picking. Mainman Sonny Smith
announced headliners Loud Fast Fools were broken down somewhere near Bakersfield and weren't expected to make it. Smith, incidentally, is the puckish fellow behind the 100 Records
project, in which he and his stable of whiz-kids make pastiche artifact singles credited to a hundred fictional acts, so one suspects LFF are as mythical as Keyser Söze
Next up were The Sandwitches
, three ladies who rattled a few idiosyncratic punky songs dominated by eerie high-lonesome vocals from Heidi Alexander and Grace Cooper. I regretted the loss of so much harmonic delight in the noisy throng. The venue was approaching maximum capacity and all that rubbing close together caused at least one amorous couple to discreetly disappear behind the door marked Staff Only. The ladies stepped off and the PA struck up a selection of dino-country tunes like Roger Miller's "King of the Road" and "The Race is On
" by George Jones. My photographer walked me around the block while I toked myself some medication. The weather had been springlike all weekend and a remarkable number of lovely young women were on Valencia gamboling after boys and each other. Earth Girl Helen Brown
was about to go on when we returned at the midnight hour. EGHB is Heidi Alexander in a low-key surly Patti Smith mood, her huge voice yowling calamity over a headlong blare that set the crowd up front to jumping. She thanked us for our participation in this moment of space-time before handing us over to Sonny & the Sunsets.
The impish Smith looked to be enjoying himself hugely, and indulged some of his trademark weird humor by insisting on dousing the stage lights and playing their entire long set in the dark. This turned out to be a canny move, as the audience at once went hyperactive, wriggling and bouncing off the worn floorboards. It sounded just as good out on the pavement and no self-entitled neighbor bothered to call a cop.
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