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Round the World for Me
August is summer vacation month and I took mine by going international for the first time! With a visit to London and Paris I saw the scenes I’ve only seen in the movies – from the Eiffel Tower and Champs Élysées in Paris to double-decker red buses, Abbey Road and Buckingham Palace in London, you can read all about the adventures of a CoolGrrrl in Europe HERE!
I didn’t have to include Sweden on my trip because Swedish rock came to me in LA this month. I’ll start with a Cool Grrrls fave: the Backyard Babies. I went to the Troubadour to meet my Cool Grrrls comrades publisher Frank, and fellow columnist Sabine, who was visiting from Germany and interviewed the band earlier that afternoon. The venue filled to sold-out capacity as the Babies took the stage to play to longtime fans as well as industry execs who were checking out the band’s worthiness of a US deal (I think this show was proof they rock!) The Babies remind me of a mix between D’ Generation and Social Distortion with a Swedish twist, though they were only allowed to play for 50 minutes as this gig was technically considered a “showcase.” It’s been four long years since the Babies hit LA and there was no doubt the crowd was amped would have stayed to see the band and sing along with them all night.
Music magazine darlings, The Hives blasted through town again to live up to their new title as “best live band.” Dressed in their trademark white suits, skinny ties and spats, the Hives blazed through songs off their smash hit album “Veni Vidi Vicious,” as well as new tracks off the recently release “Tyrannosaurus Hives” (which, in my opinion is just as good if not better than their previous CD.) Ever-charismatic singer Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist egged on his audience with all his pomp and bravado, taunting them, “You can throw stuff at us, you can yell at us, but you can’t stop us from giving you the best show of our lives!” And that they did!
For openers, the Hives brought fellow Swedes, Sahara Hotnights, an all-girl band that proves chicks rock! A toughened up version of the Donnas and more modern than the Runaways, the Hotnight grrrls backed their pumping CD, “Kiss and Tell,” which has had me rockin’ in my car the past few weeks. Though the girls image is more of tomboys than sexpots, dressed in jeans and t-shirts, it is drummer, Josephine Forsman, who is the real scene-stealer of their show. With a fan blowing her long blonde hair like she’s in a music video, she slams on the skins while taking command between beats as well. I even overheard some girls in the bathroom commenting, “That drummer is amazing, I want to be like HER!” You go grrrls!
In gearing up for my trip to London, I checked out two documentaries on my all-time favorite group, the Clash. First, Dickie Rude’s film, “Let’s Rock Again,” screened at the LA Film School. Focusing on the last years in the life of the late, great Joe Strummer, Rude had rare access to Strummer as a close friend and filmmaker, in capturing him in candid moments trying to keep his career gong some 20 years following the Clash’s demise. We not only get a peek at some great backstage footage of fans telling Strummer how he changed their lives, as well as live shots that prove what a powerhouse performer he was, but also some break-your-heart humbling moments of Strummer literally knocking on the doors of radio stations hoping to come in and convince them to play his new single. The film is a great honor to Strummer who is dearly missed. For more on the film, go to Dickie Rude’s web site: www.dickrude.biz
A week later, director Don Letts’ documentary, “The Clash: Westway to the World” played to a sold out crowd at the Arclight. Originally released in 2000, Westway tells what really happened during the Clash’s rise and fall in the form of oral history interviews with all four members of the band recounting early shows around London, their surprising chart topping success, Topper’s substance abuse, and the band’s eventual implosion. For those who missed the screening, Westway is available on DVD with extra footage of the “Clash on Broadway” and a photo gallery.
Clash fans should also check out the special 25th anniversary digipack release of “London Calling” coming out Sept. 20. Go to www.westwaytotheworld.com for the essential Clash.
Another film had me rockin’ in the movie theater when I checked out the Metallica documentary, “Some Kind of Monster.” Chronicling the band through the making of their recent album “St. Anger,” we follow the 20-year vets of headbanging as they go through exercises that mark them as no longer reckless heavy metal youths, but hardcore adults trying to juggle being fathers to their own children, the very real issues of substance abuse, controlling personalities and seeking group therapy. Though it’s a bit like two hours of watching your dysfunctional parents squabble, storm out of the room and make up again, it’s an honest, bare knuckle, behind the music look at a group of musicians who must take their dominate, creative personalities and cope with being in an intense, long-lasting relationship. It’s a good lesson for anyone looking to make a career in this crazy biz called music.
Speaking of headbanging…I stopped by the Roxy for Metal Skool night — now that it has relocated from the Viper Room — to check out my pal Coyote Shivers for his record release party. While DJ (and Faster Pussycat/Newlydeads frontman) Taime Downe rocked the crowd from the booth — and proves he’s still able to draw lustful looks from all the metal chicks in attendance –Coyote soon took the stage with his ever-present lineup of Casper on guitar and Chad on drums to churn out songs for his upcoming 2 CD set that includes crowd pleasers such as “Plus One”, “Sugarhigh” and “It’s All Over.” He was followed by mock-rock house band Metal Skool (aka Metal Shop, aka Danger Kitty) who offered up their usual hilarious dose of posing and covering hits from Poison, Van Halen, Ratt and Warrant. And we had a “Stars in Bars” moment when we spotted Keanu Reeves laying low in a back booth while keen-eyed girls “casually” strolled past the actor who was dressed down and scruffy for a night of rockin’.
Coming at you from ’round the world,