Photo by Jeanne RiceNaked Movie Star/Playingcard Motorbike/Element 17/O.O.D.
Club 369
Saturday, June 26
Let us first speak of smoke. Filthy, obnoxious, cigarette smoke. If-it-bothers-you-then-I'll-move-five-feet-away-so-I-won't-feel-so-bad-about-slowly-killing-you cigarette smoke. I'm-hanging-out-in-a-rock-club-and-people-who-hang-out-in-rock-clubs-are-supposed-to-smoke-because-that's-just-the-way-it-is cigarette smoke. Secondhand smoke that permeates your clothes and hair so deeply that your friends think you've taken up the habit, and when you explain to them, “No, no, we were just at Club 369, which is basically one big ashtray, and there's hardly any ventilation, and . . .” they shoot you one of those “Yeah, right, you are so lying; what other substances are you abusing that you're not telling us about?” looks and start mumbling about staging an intervention.

Look, we've spent much of our life in hazy rock clubs, back when there wasn't such a thing as a smoking ban, so we're not a wuss. We've even been known to take the occasional drag ourself. But since so many OC clubs have purged the Demon Leaf in compliance with the indoor-smoking law (or have at least banished its users to an outside netherworld), we've become acclimated to this new, hot, trendy, breathable-air thing.

Which is a roundabout way of arriving at two points: 1) that foul air may indeed be the reason we so rarely venture into Club 369. And 2) said air is also why we simply could not last until closing band Hyppii Jett's set without filing a worker's-comp claim, though we really tried (thanks for the tickets, anyway). One word, everybody: quit. Seriously. It's not as cool as you think it is, and it lowers your sex drive. But you'll find thatout soon enough. Probably when you least want to.

Speaking of health hazards, O.O.D. (no, we don't know what the letters stand for, so make up your own) were a tired spew-metal/lozenge-rock band, and God knows how spent that genre is. At least they were a bit funkier and not nearly as serious as Korn, etc., but they blathered on for what felt like an eternity, and just when we thought they were about to leave, they would start another song! After a while, we just ignored them, even their gratuitous maybe-this-will-get-your-attention '80s cover of Talking Heads' “Burning Down the House.”

Much better were Element 17, but hey, we're fans! Their set was loaded with a bunch of unpretentious, non-rock-star rock songs from their new CD, Pristine. There was sweetly crunching, addictively hooky stuff like “Not a Lush” and especially “Indifferent” (so good it oughta be on some paper's local-band compilation CD or something, like maybe track four, between Havalina Rail Co. and Third Grade Teacher. Hmmm . . .). And we couldn't have agreed more with one of their groupies, who chimed in with a review of his own: “Yeah, fuck yeah! Turn that shit up! That shit fuckin' rocks!” Awww, yeah! We remember our first beer. But you didn't have to be plowed to appreciate Element 17.

We thought you almost had to be on something, though, to get into Playingcard Motorbike, who, outside of an occasional guitar part, just weren't terribly engrossing. The scoop we'd heard on them was that when they played the EAT'M confab in Vegas, they had the crowd rioting! Going crazy! Total Apeshit City! We had even heard that people were knocking one another down, ripping newly purchased Playingcard Motorbike CDs out of one another's hands. But wait! Snooooort! What's that smell? Could it be . . . HYPE? Oh, yeah, baby. We couldn't figure out what could have possibly provoked such an (alleged) reaction because all we got from them was a load of corporate-rock pomposity, what with their drawn-curtain entrance (all bands we catch doing this are automatically thrown into a lake of Locals Only hellfire—just so you know) and their annoying Layne Staley-esque lead moaner's hand-gesture-laden stage persona. It was yet another case of a band acting as if they were already rock stars, like they had all earned masters' degrees from the University of Journey. We also couldn't have agreed more with these audience rock crits: “Play some Skynyrd! 'Free Bird!'” But hey, it was okay Dawson's Creek music.

Just when we were thinking, “Wait a sec:Aren't Element 17 supposed to play with good bands?” out popped Naked Movie Star, an insatiable bunch of rockers who were weighted down with nifty melodies, warm grooves, giddy little vocal harmonies and a no-bull presence—all they did was play their songs. What a concept! Okay, they did employ a stupid fucking smoke machine, which earned our instant wrath, but they redeemed themselves nicely with their tunes. Though by this point, we'd had quite enough smoke.

Send tapes, CDs and tips on where we should go (besides hell) to Locals Only,OC Weekly, P.O. Box 10788, Costa Mesa, CA 92627-0247.

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