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Hey everybody. This year’s 2nd Annual Las Vegas Rockaround was an absolute blast. I had a great time last year, but there were more people this time, and it got even better. I don’t know how Tom Ingram does it. He manages to organize these fantastic events that seem like they would be nightmares to put together, yet they always go off so smoothly. This is a very expensive event to put together though, and there were rumors that the event would not happen again next year. I checked with Tom Ingram, and the rumors have been confirmed. This was the last Rockaround. I am disappointed to hear it, but at least I got to experience 2 excellent weekends.
The Rockaround was Friday Sept 24 through Sunday Sept 26th. There were about 20 bands over 3 days, burlesque performers, merchandise, and DJs. I discovered a few new Garage bands that I was really impressed with. I rated Muck and The Mires from Boston as #1 for the whole weekend, but it was an extremely hard call, as there were several bands that I loved. It turns out this band also won a battle of the bands at Little Steven’s Garage Rock festival in New York!
Muck and the Mires are pure-sounding 60s garage rock, with a bit of rhythm and blues thrown in, and are very high energy. They really had the crowd in the palm of their hand. They have a girl drummer who is absolutely amazing. I looked at their website, and it turns out they got their start when their singer recorded a ‘greatest hits’ album that he never planned to release, that was supposed to seem like something someone dug up from the 60s that were lost recordings. It got released and caused a stir, and then… there were Muck and the Mires. A Greatest Hits album was their first release! Okay, that’s just bizarre. To get to the bottom of things, check out their website. www.muckandthemires.com As I said, of all the bands at the Rockaround, they were my favorite.
I went into the weekend knowing very little, if anything, about most of the bands; so I was picking favorite bands based solely on their performance at the Rockaround. Other favorites of mine were The Dragons, The Bobbyteens, Downliners Sect, Fortune and the Maltese, Chesterfield Kings, The Priests, and Deadbolt (for their sheer comedic talent).
The Dragons played their last show ever, as their guitarist is moving to Japan; and they decided not to continue on with out him. They were the last band to play the weekend, at 3am on Sunday night, and only a handful of us were still standing to see them perform. I thought they were incredible! They rock so hard and so seemingly effortlessly, that it was kind of sad to realize this is the last time I’ll see them perform. They ended their stint as the Dragons, being the best rock and roll band that they could possibly be- from a fan’s standpoint. They played this show as if it were for hundreds of people, even though there was hardly anyone there. (It was a bad time slot as far as crowd size, and it would have been, regardless of who had that slot.)
The Downliners Sect were another stand out for me. They actually formed and recorded in the 60s and had a few hits in Europe. According to Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide, on vh1.com, "Of all the British R&B bands to follow the Rolling Stones’ footsteps, the Downliners Sect were arguably the rawest." Rawer than the Rolling Stones in the 60s? I believe it. Their live performance kept me interested and entertained, and the amusing British banter between songs didn’t hurt the performance. They were quite good.
There were a lot of other bands that the crowd enjoyed like garage rock legends, The Monks, who formed in 1964 as five American GIs stationed in Germany. I never followed their music, so seeing them was not a standout moment of the weekend for me personally, but I know that it was for some. www.the-monks.com
Fortune and the Maltese (weird name, huh?) were very 60s inspired, even in their choice of dress. (They all wore suits reminiscent of the old Beatles days). They were musically very tight and together and seemed as though they had been playing together very well for a good amount of time. They put on a very good show and I would recommend seeing them. fortuneandmaltese.tripod.com
The Bobbyteens, I have written about a few times before because they are from my former home of the San Francisco Bay Area, and were a band I went to see frequently there. They have got a powerful female lead singer as well as two rockin’ chicks on guitar and bass. Their drummer is the only guy in the band and he’s an amazingly energetic drummer who also plays for The Flakes (and another band too I think). I really enjoy The Boobyteens’ catchy bubblegum pop lyrics and their rocking sound. bobbyteens.com
The Chesterfield Kings had a very androgenous singer whose look reminded me of Tom Keefer, the singer from the metal band Cinderella, (although he probably aspires to be more like Mick Jagger or David Johansen from the NY Dolls.) He was a trip to watch, and I really enjoyed them. You don’t see too many cross dresser types fronting Garage Rock bands! www.chesterfieldkings.com
Deadblot are so funny to watch. I have been seeing them for many years (7 or 8 now) and in all honesty, there was a point several years ago when I got bored of seeing them because they tend to do the same shtick for every show. However, I don’t feel bored of seeing them anymore. I took a break for a few years and then when I re-visited them, they had all new members except for Harley, who is the front man. The schtick has evolved a little and Harley says a lot of funny things to audience members throughout the performance. The band also puts top priority on doing tequila shots, swilling beers, and smoking cigarettes; and the music seems to be secondary! They have 2 bass players, which results in their heavy bass "Voodoobilly" sound. Their drummer does his bit to entertain the crowd between songs by lip-syncing old crooner songs into an old-style microphone with a spotlight shining on him. The band also karate-chops blocks of wood, creates sparks with a skill saw, and dances off the stage. This was their second year to play the Rockaround, and I enjoyed them both times. www.downinthelab.com
I don’t remember much about The Priests, but I really enjoyed them. Other bands at the Rockaround were the all-girl Japanese band, the 5678’s, who were in the movie Kill Bill; Devil Doll, Reigning Sound, Greenhornes, Sky Saxon and the Seeds, The Coffin Lids, Oragutones, Barrence Whitfield, A-Bones, Deke Dickerson Frat Band, Loons, and Hasil Adkins- a really funny old country guy.
I don’t want to go on too much more about the Rockaround, but there was so much more that happened than you are getting from me. Our NYC Coolgrrrl, Kitty Kowalski was also there, and I bet she’ll tell you about some of bands that I didn’t fill you in on. She and I had a lot of fun together, and we met and hung out with a lot of cool people from all over the US. I really enjoyed the new friends I met, and plan to keep in touch with some. My favorite part of the Rockaround is that the music brings people together who have common interests. I always have a blast meeting new people at these events!
Okay, so now back to LA…
I went to a great warehouse show on Friday Oct 8th called "Painkillers." I went to see a band I had mentioned seeing earlier this year, called The Sharp Ease. I wanted to see them again because they reminded me of early Go-Gos. This show was at a small space where they sold $2 cans of beer and the bathroom was behind the stage, so if you were in it when a band was playing, you’d have to walk on stage to get out! It was so grass roots, which I totally love. Don Bolles (drummer from the Germs and 45 Grave) was the MC and he was dressed in a Chinese military uniform and Hitler mustache. He’s so funny. Apparently he does a club every Tuesday night at the Parlor (on Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood) called Club Screwball. I haven’t been yet, but plan to go one of these days.
The Sharp Ease are a lot of fun. They are all girls who look to be in their early 20s, and they seem uninhibited and raw, with a new wave sound; and that’s why they remind me of early Go-Gos. I will definitely see them again, and I will also go to Painkillers again if I hear there will be another one. People were drinking on the street, no one looked like fashion victims, and it was totally un-Hollywood, which I love. The opening bands were young, crazy and electroclash, yet still rock and roll. They sounded pretty bad, but I thought it was great! www.thesharpease.com
I saw another LA band that I was impressed with on Sat Oct 9th at Mr T’s Bowl called The Mormons. They are 4 guys who wear white short-sleeved button down shirts with black slacks, bicycle helmets, and backpacks. I guess that is how the door-to-door Mormon missionaries dress? I wouldn’t know. The Mormons had incredible, insane energy. The singer rolled all over the floor more often than he stood upright, and the crowd was going absolutely nuts. It was the best show I have seen up close in a while. One crowd member was doing summer-salts across the floor in front of the band. They really got the crowd going, and I loved it. Their sound is punk, but I don’t remember it well enough to describe it further. I plan to see them again when I have the chance and will be able to say more about them. They definitely put on a great show! www.themormonsband.com
On Thurs Sept 30th, I went to see Hammerlock at The Viper Room. I have to go on record as saying the Viper Room SUCKS!!!! First, they will not allow you to take photos without permission (which I was able to get for the 1st 3 songs only, and only of the stage). Second, whoever booked the show and put the night together did a terrible job. The bands were so different from one another, that putting them on the same bill made no sense. I walked in, and a death metal band was playing upstairs (yuck!), or you could go downstairs to a bar where there was a house music DJ! The next band, Blair Bitch Project, is okay I guess, but they don’t play death metal, or the kind of music Hammerlock plays– which is fast, hard rock and roll, with a southern or country edge, which they call "Outlaw Music." The bill was no good, and there was no promotion apparently cause the room was empty. I was pissed off for the band, as this was the last date of a very successful mini-tour through the southwest. Another thing that sucks about the Viper room is that they play stupid top 40 rock music in between bands. It is so lame, and so stereotypical LA. Despite all this, Hammerlock put on a kick ass show. They are a great band and every time I see them, I am never disappointed.
On Sat Sept 18th, I went to a Fundraiser Carnival for the LA Roller Derby gals, The Derby Dolls. It was pretty fun. They had a lot of funny things going on: girls on roller skates, a dunking booth, sumo suit wrestling, carnival games and prizes, a bouncy room, you name it! I can’t wait til the Roller Derby begins! I got a funny photo of the sumo suit wrestling, which was hilarious.
So, since it is the month of October, my friend and I decided to hit Octoberfest. I have never been to one before, and all I knew to expect, was to drink some beer. We went to one on a Tuesday when we both had the day off, in Huntington Beach. I figured the fest goes on all month, a bunch of hardcore beer-appreciaters would be there on a Tuesday. Well, we were wrong. We were practically the only people there. The Octoberfest in Huntington Beach looked like it would be a fun place to go on the weekend when there are people there though. It was modeled after a German village, with cobblestone streets and lots of shops, German restaurants, and bars. We took photos in these funny cutout German figures where you can put your face in the hole, but that was the highlight of the day.
Not giving up on the Octoberfest experience, we went to another one in Alpine Village (Torrance, CA) on the following Saturday evening. I didn’t like the place much. The big "Fest" is in a big room with picnic tables and a stage for the band to play. The beer choices were "Alpine Lager," which is brewed there and tasted like feet, or Natural Light. Well, that isn’t very German, is it? We hung around for a while and drank $5 beers and watched old white people do stupid dances, but it got boring. We were kind of bummed! I hope that we end up going back to the one in Huntington on a weekend before the month gets crazy with Halloween and stuff. I will let you all know! Until next time…
XXXOOO- Alisha Amnesia
Sharp Ease photo taken from their website by Toni Wells. Rockaround photos by Alisha Amnesia and Kitty Kowalski. All others by Alisha Amnesia unless taken from band websites, which are included above.