This promised to be an interesting show. I simply adored the first She Wants Revenge record, and i had heard good things about the young punk of Be Your Own Pet.
When we arrived at The Variety Playhouse, The Virgins were just taking the stage. This is a four-piece touring act, that from New York. Much of their music had that white-boy stoner ska sound that Sublime made popular in the 1990s.
Oddly enough, this band looks like they spent their time at the gym instead of hanging out smoking weed. They were a bunch of beefy guys in wife beaters. Apparently they are big with the teenage girl set. When i left the safety of the EvilSponge box seats to go down front and take some photos (the things i do for you people), i was surrounded by teenage girls that seemed to be on the verge of swooning.
The dreamy Virginal lead vocalist.
Their music was radio-friendly pop, not bad, but not exactly challenging either. Their Sublime-like tunes came across best, loping about at a good pace with decent bass riffage. Tracers remarked that this safe, friendly music was what she had hoped Those Efficient Mennonites had sounded like, and sure enough The Virgins never succumbed to poorly executed white boy rap.
The lead guitarist of The Virgins. Who looks about 12.
I have to say that i was not terribly impressed with this band, but neither was i repulsed. They are painfully young, and they seem to have some chops. Give them some time, and see how they develop. My advice to the young band is two-fold -- explore your fondness for Ska a little deeper than the fourth generation stuff that Sublime did. And stay of the steroids -- you don't need to be that buff to carry your gear around.
We then had a brief intermission while Be Your Own Pet set up. I have only heard a few tunes from these kids (again with the very young bands!), but what i heard was decent enough. They appear to make energetic punkish rock in the old school, mid 70s NYC vein of things. I happen to like that era of music a lot, so i was curious to see how them come across live.
As i moved to front for photography i noticed that the crowd had switched over: the teenage girls had wandered off, while teenage boys moved forward, staring lustily at the lead vocalist of BYOP in her tight shorts. I swear this show had young hormones to spare!
The dreamy vocalist of Be Your Own Pet, in a rare non-spazzing out moment.
The music they played was a fastish sort of early punk. It was as if they wanted to perform the types of things that Richard Hell and the Voidoids or Television did, but they didn't have the skill (let's be fair though -- very few people are as good of a guitarist as Richard Lloyd) or the decadent life experience (none of them were old enough to write the types of grizzled tunes that Richard Hell wrote) to fully pull it off.
Be Your Own Guitarist's Pet. (Or something like that.)
Instead, to me they came across as some earnest young kids who liked some strange songs, and tried to emulate them, not knowing fully what all of the music was really about. (Here's a hint for you kids: all that early punk was about heroin.) They seemed so earnest and serious, the guitarist straining to pull off the ideas in his head. To his benefit, he succeeded most of the time, and in fact their songs were generally good.
Be Your Own Pet ... in shiney gold shorts!
Entertaining enough, i guess, but i don't feel that they lived up the hype that they had been given. Of course, i have a long history of being disappointed with hyped bands, so no big surprise there. Still, i keep hoping that sooner or later i will come across some band that actually does live up to the heaps of praise piled upon them. Maybe the next buzz band will...
The crowd changed out yet again, most of the teenagers fleeing for the exits while the slightly older folk who had been sitting in the middle of The Playhouse for the first two bands surged forward. These were people who knew their New Order, who remembered Depeche Mode before David Gahan grew his hair out and started looking like Axl Rose (seriously -- what the heck was he thinking?), and they were here for She Wants Revenge. Your faithful reviewer, obviously, was of this category.
The lights dimmed, and She Wants Revenge took the stage to a swirl of smoke and a thudding dance beat. There were a standard four-piece with some additional sequencing going on. They proceeded to play a set of great 80s damaged dance rock. The lead singer's voice was swirling with smokiness, and the lead guitarist stood in the shadows flinging his guitar around like he both hated it and didn't care what happened to it. The drummer sat back on the riser keeping a beat while appearing nonchalant, and the bassist stood thumping his instrument while looking bored as he posed in his slouch hat. When you get down to it, that is all that i ever expected them to be.
She Wants Revenge in multi-colored action.
They played most of their glorious first record, and only hit a couple of tunes of their disastrous second effort. From some things they said, it became clear that they were not happy with that record either, and they blamed the record company they had just left for rushing the disc out.
This is the time of night, when we can be who we really are...
They also played a couple of new tunes from the EP they were selling on tour. Apparently they have left their big label behind, and are out on their own. Fortunately, these new tunes hearkened back to the first record. That is to say, they were dark 80s dance rock, with the voice half-buried in the mix, subservient to the beat, the whirling guitar, and the keyboards. (The second album was so disastrous, i think, because it shoved the vocals way out front. Let's face it, the lyrics are not deep and do not need to be heard that clearly.)
She Wants Revenge. She, in this case, being the guitar...
As i stood up front snapping photos, i found my legs bouncing to their irresistible beats, and i stood in the crowd bopping along as others danced. It was a lot of fun, really, but not enough to salvage the night on the whole. By the time She Wants Revenge really got going, they had barely enough people there to fill the EARL. And let's face it, i would rather have seem them there are foregone the two teenager bands. But oh well.