Please Don't Bite!

Koo's Art Cafe
Wednesday, Feb. 21

We knew people liked Wesley Willis; we didn't know they worshiped him. Poor little Koo's was so crammed full of moon-eyed Wesley-heads hanging on the man's every cuss word that an ambulance and a police chopper showed up, possibly worried that a riot was very slowly and politely in progress. But this crowd, larger even than the fabled Get Up Kids mob that spilled over the fence a year or so ago (and included everyone from frat boys to mall girls to even a few bemused mom and dad types), wasn't there to riot—they were there to gleefully do everything Willis told them. Well, almost everything: when he said, “Say 'rock,'” they bellowed, “Rock!” When he said, “Say 'roll,'” they bellowed, “Roll!” And when he grinned puckishly and said, “Say 'Suck my dick for a piece of pizza,'” the room exploded with confused and self- conscious mumbling. But the faithful made up for that momentary lapse of enthusiasm later when Willis—who at one point proclaimed “no rerun songs”—relented and ran through a medley of some of his greatest compositions (including breakthrough hit “Rock 'n' Roll McDonalds,” pop anthem “Cut the Mullet” and a new uptempo version of slow jam “I Whupped Batman's Ass”). Kids were singing along to every line and triumphantly throwing devil horns in the air as they shouted as one, “Rock over London! Rock over Santa Ana, California! Wheaties, Breakfast of Champions!”

“Some people are just into this way too much,” observed one worried showgoer, huddled with the somewhat-less-fanatic masses outside. But Wesley Willis really seems to speak to people, even if it is basically with a stream of non sequiturs and obscenities. Sure, there was the unavoidable smattering of assholes, but they were outnumbered and outgunned. When someone snickered at Willis' ponderous profile and catcalled, “Nice booty,” fans leapt to his defense; retorted one noble girl, “You're not so slim yourself!” Willis tapped out a last keyboard flourish at about 11 p.m., retiring just before his schizophrenia medication started to wear off, and returned to the merch table where his weary disciples, us among them, lined up for gentle headbutts and photo ops. “Wesley,” we said, elbowing through a snarl of teenyboppers and extending a hand, “you did a great show.” He took our by-comparison-dainty hand in his and met our eyes: “I know what you mean,” he said, and gave us a solemn handshake. Rock over Santa Ana, California, indeed. (Chris Ziegler)

Club Mesa
Friday, Feb. 23

When we last left Fear, Lee Ving was taunting a roiling crowd of skinheads in The Decline of Western Civilization (“Next time, don't bite so hard when I come, okay?”), proudly torpedoing the integrity of Saturday Night Live with a rather blue performance, and driving Darby Crash further and further into the closet. But it's 21 years and an on-again-off-again acting career (didja see Flashdance? Watch closely!) later for singer Lee Ving, and so we ask: Can a Fear show still be scary? There were a few skinheads windmilling around the pit and subsequently getting tossed out by security—just like old times, right?—but this is the new millennium: a bunch of affable drunk girls and guys with brightly colored T-shirts touting various “network solutions,” all pumping their fists to “Beef Bologna.” We squinted: Were these . . . sort of . . . yuppies? The shirtless, gay-baiting, loogie-gobber boneheads of 1981 reincarnated as dot-com-helming power-lunchers? Whoever they were, they knew all the words, and when Lee Ving tore into “I Don't Care About You,” it suddenly made a little more sense: a song can't get more accessible than that, especially for an Orange County crowd. And although Fear conspicuously did not play the smash hit from whence they got all the money (i.e., “I Love Livin' in the City”), Ving can definitely still sing—his machine-gun “1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4!” still gets the blood racing, even if he didn't mouth word one about anyone biting his anything. Instead, he's got an older-wiser-crankier almost-Willie-Nelson thing going on (linked, no doubt, to the shaggy hair and the sleeveless jean jacket). He's switched to crotchety political commentary, riffing on President W. (“Boy's dumb, but he likes to fight”) and his less-than-stringent guidelines for who gets to drive nuclear submarines (“Your tax dollar at work”). This wasn't politically incorrect; it's Politically Incorrect and, evidently, a kinder and gentler Fear. And we never thought we'd see that. (CZ)

Din Din at the Bamboo Terrace
Saturday, Feb. 24

Saturday night was heap-loads of fun! It got off to a rousing start when, instead of going out and having a good time as was the original plan, I instead sat around my friend's house while he repeatedly emptied, into the toilet, the contents of a nutritious meal that didn't agree with him. Correction—nutritious meals. I don't know how many he ate, but based on the lengthy duration of his bathroom furlough, it had to have been more than just dinner that was starring, for a limited time, in his toilet. “You know what I wish?” he queried through the bathroom door. “I wish you were a guy because then I could show you what just came out of me!”

“Darn!” I yelled back, gagging. And that, if you must know, is why we were late arriving at Bamboo Terrace, having missed Lo-Fi Champion, who were dressed as Jehovah's Witnesses. I mean, they weren't really, but I defy you to tell the difference between the band members, who looked jaunty in white shirts and narrow blue ties, and Soldiers of Christ, who also look jaunty in white shirts and narrow blue ties.

My Weak-Stomached Pal (who has forbidden me to use his name, which is weird to me since he was more than ready to show me the contents of his colon; whence springs this sudden coyness?) and I got there in time to see an entire set by Goldenboy. The three-piece Diamond Bar band features the excellent Shon Sullivan (nicknamed “Goldenboy”), who plays cello, guitar and piano in Elliot Smith's touring band, on vocals, guitar and keys. Before he got the Smith gig, he played in a melodic psychedelic-ish band I used to really like called Moonwash. Before that he played in melodic psych-edelic-ish band Moonwash Symphony, who performed at my college, so as far as I'm concerned, Sullivan and I go way back. We're practically family. I think he felt the same way, after I reminded him who I was.

Goldenboy began to play one of their plaintive melodic numbers, made more soothing, plaintive and melodic by Sullivan's gentle baritone. Actually, I'm not sure he's a baritone, and sometimes he sings in a falsetto, but it's all quite soft and syrupy in a good singer-songwriter way. He should do lullabies!

“They're really soothing,” remarked Captain Indigestion. “I think I'm beginning to feel better.” At this point it gets confusing because I think I said, “Yeah, they make music for your butt,” but Captain Indigestion claims Roberto from Lo-Fi Champion said it and Roberto claims the Captain said it, which is stupid because I'm the one who said it. Regardless, I got all sorts of grief for the rest of the night from Baron Von Light-A-Match-Please for, according to him, trying to take credit for someone else's phrase. Bite me, Toilet Boy!

Three songs in, Sullivan put down his guitar and began playing electric piano on a song called “Baby Doll,” which, at the beginning, sounds a tiny bit like the theme song from Cheers, which I actually, at the time, said, but Roberto and Toilet Duck probably want to take credit for that one, too.

At some point, Goldenboy played “Savior Pill,” a Moonwash song I remember from their album, which I used to own although I can't find it or remember what it was called, but I was overjoyed to hear the song as, for a time, it made me forget my troubles with the Duke of Crappy Pants, so for that, I'm eternally grateful. (Alison M. Rosen)

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