old punks web zine

Concert Reviews/MOTO Interview

Concert Review: 4/15/2011 - The Meatmen, Alex's Bar, Long Beach, CA:

They're The Meatmen, And You Suck!

Concert Review – The Meatmen at Alex’s Bar, Long Beach, CA 4-15-2011: After entering the club I saw the tall, hulking and slightly slouching Tesco Vee (real name Robert Vermeulen) working the merchandise table with his wife of 29 years, Gerta Gompers, so I slid over to tell him I met him in the 90s outside a Baltimore club where he and his band were looking at a retro-70s German porn mag, where I was then invited to his Halloween party where I dressed like a martial arts guy... and also that I'd shopped at his toy store in suburban Maryland. He smiled slightly and vaguely looked through me, crushing my remaining childish innocence.  I cried on the inside but gamely vowed to buy a shirt on the way out. Which I did.

Opening was The Junk, with members of The Smut Peddlers. They combined the regional drunk punk, post-Heartbreakers thing with Angry Samoan licks, the latter making me pay more attention than usual. Their set was straight-forward and entertaining, which I prefer over the over-the-top-gotta-finish-so-I-can-get-back-to-my-accelerated-demise vibe I get from others of their ilk. They were very good. Next up were Against The Grain, touring with Tesco from Detroit. From their site: With influences ranging from Zeke, Nofx, Chuck Berry, The Descendents, Slayer, Black Sabbath, The Dead kennedys, Bad Religion, and Iron Maiden, u can be sure ATG keeps it diverse and interesting.” As I only like half these bands I soon found myself sitting outside giving my old-injured spine a rest. The third band was a gay Black Flag cover band called Black Fag, whose lead singer was wearing a Cock Sparrer t-shirt before they went on. They were a great cover band and their gimmick lasted for me about six songs, at which point I went back outside to rest by back. The singer’s persona was a cross between Fred Schneider and David Lochary as Raymond Marble in Pink Flamingos. I was gobsmacked when they combined “Six Pack” with “Rock Lobster”. In this video they combine "Six Pack" with "In The Navy". Sitting outside away from the social clusters my night was made when a stoner stumbled up and asked me if I was a narc.

The Meatmen set started with the bass player (or was it Tesco) giving a MC5-type speech. The show switched regularly between the You Suck, Superbikes and Hate Police eras, with Tesco sharing the comedy duties with his bass player. He shot off a few confetti canons, one attached to the back of his “Veiny Bulger” plywood guitar, and tossed out a variety of pre-printed sweat rags after he’d finished marking them with his face urea. A number of rubber masks were worn throughout the evening. The band was great and Tesco’s always funny. They covered The Pagan’s “What’s This S—t Called Love?”, Fear’s “Beef Bologna” and Gang Green’s “Alcohol”. Tesco seemed defensive and I had no idea why there would be chips on his shoulder. The biggest laugh of the night was when he said someone described him as a gay Al Bundy. Highlights for me were “Lesbian Death Dirge”, “Mr. Tapeworm”, “Tooling For Anus” (I wish they did the spoken intro), “2 Down, 2 To Go” and The Suck Trilogy of crippled children, the French, and camel jockeys. All-in-all it was a great show on both the nostalgia and good times levels.

The Residents: Talking Light Tour, January 30, 2010, The Henry Ford Theatre, Los Angeles, CA (concert review): It's 8:00 AM, twelve hours before tonight's show, and I already feel confident The Resident's Talking Light show will leave me bored and disappointed. Why even go then? It's The Residents, the great love-hate relationship of my musical life. I've seen all their national tours except for Bunny Boy since 1986's 13th Anniversary Show. Bunny Boy was internet ambitious but made up as they went along, with Big Rez free associating a story about something or other this guy gives a stab at recalling. Even The Residents themselves called bulls--t on themselves:

The time had come for a change. The Residents had known that for a while, even before Bunny hopped on to the scene.

Bunny Boy was a combination of music that was vaguely related to an internet series that was all vaguely related to a touring version of those things combined. In some ways it could be said that it was lacking a unified vision. Others might say that the project was exactly about that, Bunny's search for his brother was nothing more than The Residents trying to ground themselves in something they cared about again.

In early 2009,
The Bunny Boy
was quickly swept under the rug, story truncated, final tour dumped entirely. The work that had begun on a new album was halted.

The Residents again became introspective, wondering if they were just becoming extensions of who they had been. Who are The Residents?

By their own admission still floundering for ideas and flooding the market with anything they can find in drawers and boxes in the back room, they're hitting the road again with possibly more of the same:

The story of the Talking Light piece is basically that of an older man who questions, not only decisions he made as a teenager, but also if the events he remembers from that time happened at all. "A dead infant clutching a ring with an inscription the teenager cannot read" is the stuff of dreams. The following stories in the show may or may not shed light on the inscription. Questions remain unanswered. The Residents study death, not as a horrific end, but as the ultimate question that we all ask while wondering if any of it is even real.

The Residents have always lacked a master plan but that's part of their charm. For every miss (The River of Crime, The Bunny Boy) there were five hits (Duck Stab, The King & Eye), and fans being collector geeks it was fun buying everything. Now it's kind of sad, running on fumes of creativity and reputation, making up pointless stories and recording music over it. The days of God in 3 Persons are long gone. Big Rez and his pal better be writing a book on the true story of The Residents. I'm afraid that's the only real creative accomplishment they can pull off at this point. We'll see, we'll see....

Part II

The Henry Fonda Theater is a glorious dump of a venue with walls and ornate carvings that appear to be made from cotton candy-colored Styrofoam. The main hallway is a gauntlet of cheap light fixtures, maybe as a joke. The tiny men’s room had an attendant who shoved paper towels in my face. Being on Hollywood Blvd.., California's take on NY’s 42nd Street as seen in Taxi Driver, the sidewalk is spaced with stars from the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, as glamorous as can be expected from a suburb of Skid Row. Here at the intersection of Piss and Puke I felt bad for Lucille Ball, Yvonne DeCarlo, Loretta Young, Audrey Meadows and Rock Hudson. Lucille Ball’s star is tucked behind a bus bench and Rock’s is in the driveway of a parking lot. They live forever in our hearts. Ray Davies knew.

The set and costumes look great, and the show begins with the potential to be special, but unfortunately it falls short and bogs down into unintelligible, ugly droning of little distinction and stories no better than improv, revealing once again The Residents to be either out of ideas, immune to outside advice, or, as I suspect, self-destructive as a reflex action. I reject their short attention span defense. Talking Lights tries to be many things but there’s no clearly defined unifying theme and its pieces don’t mesh into something anyone can defend as more than the sum of its parts – a few themselves suspect. The Residents wanted to re-assess their priorities and this is their attempt to stick with storytelling while offering fans memories of better days, when it was THE RESIDENTS and not just Big Rez and The Contractors. I considered Molly Harvey a real Resident, and her leaving was a kick in the band’s groin even I felt.

The set is a comfy couch with overlaid doilies, a fireplace with roaring fake flames, a 13” tv showing only static, a crystal rock lamp on a stand, a small lamp with a furry shade on the mantle, a gingerbread man and other things I couldn’t make out. I think there a cutout of The Last Supper up there too. Three large, round screens on stands are left, right and center behind. Big Rez wears a long black & white striped robe, with a long red scarf, a silk undershirt, shorts (I think, my view was obstructed) and a red fanny pack stuffed with his wireless microphone stuff. His face is covered with a bald, worried old man mask and he says his name is “Randy”. For the encore he comes out in a white pimp coat covered in white lights, indicating what exactly? “Chuck” is on keyboards and “Bob” plays guitar. They look like the offspring of The Predator and a Whoppi Goldberg robot. It’s a great look. Randy says “Carlos” retired. I assume he was the xylophone drummer from previous tours. The screens are used to project films of the characters telling their horrible tales of woe, a nice novelty that becomes boring due to long, boring stories that lead to obvious if not underwhelming conclusions.

Talking Light is heavily pre-recorded. Sonically the sensory overload of pounding rhythms is effective compensation for lack of melodic composition, but as such the more songs that sounded the same the more the piece dragged. The show involves the periodic playing of old radio ads, centered around Coke’s “I’d like to teach the world to sing", used ironically I guess. It may have something to do with the second of the three “ghost” stories, which aren’t really about ghosts, I think. The stories are about a baby in a burning sphere, the Pudding Roll-Ups serial killer and a crazy lady with an invisible sister. It’s hard to hear the stories clearly and they don’t add up to anything scary or insightful. The pudding tale telegraphs itself two counties away. Then there’s songs, most if not all from prior albums, either hinted at (“Demons Dance Alone”, “They Are The Meat”), or remade as ugly and unintelligible (“Semolina”, “Bury Me Not”).

The Residents are given a lot of cultural leeway by reputation alone. As far as venues go in Los Angeles they’ve been on a downward trajectory, not helped by their determination to create shows that cater to the anti-commercial fantasies of their most rabid fans, who as I’ve seen it consist of fat slobs with unfortunate hair, Travis Bickle types, Zappa hippies and European-style intellectuals. I’d say half the crowd were wives, girlfriends and friends-of-friends, and no way would anyone not completely open to performance art want to see this again. Between the growling and the slurring even I couldn’t make out half the lyrics of songs I knew. The music was consistently ugly and lacked distinction beyond the standard formula. The stories went on too long and dared you to keep your interest. It wasn’t the horrible mess I feared it would be, but it came up to the line and leaned over it with arms waving backwards like mad.

Here’s my advice for The Residents: Stop telling stories. Write songs with melodies, even if they're the anti-melodies you're famous for. Sing so the words can be heard. Seek outside advice from people who don’t care about your legendary status. The only show I see Big Rez having left in him is The True Stories Of The Residents, all true and his real face revealed except when performing from specific periods. Everybody with two moving brain cells knows who the Residents are. The band should play in tuxedos and eyeballs. Have all the masks on a display. Play the songs close to how they were recorded. Enunciate. That would be one great story and a great concert too. I doubt they’ll do it. Big Rez wants to go down flailing.

Concert Review: Bob Mould, the El Ray, Los Angeles, CA 10/15/2005: I'm the same age as Bob Mould, singer and guitarist for my favorite band for a decade, so when he walked by on his way back from a bad Baja Fresh dinner I just smiled. He, friendly as can be, stopped, and I thanked him for being in Husker Du. If I was eighteen I'd probably just gawk and mumble "Hommina Hommina Hommina".

El Ray is a bit seedy but it looks nice if you can't see well. This was the end of Bob's tour to promote Body Of Song, an excellent CD that sounds less electronic the more you listen to it. Shiny Toy Guns opened and they alternated between electronic dance music and the post-emo stadium rock I hear in the gym between slow jam hip hops. The female singer looks like Buffy and the hairy drummer like Animal from The Muppets. They're obviously a Next Big Thing band and if they make it, well, good for them. I went outside during their set and stared at Wilshire Blvd. Up the street, H.I.M. was playing and their fans were young and lumpy. Here at the Bob show there were two groups: skinny kids to see Shiny Toy Guns and middle age fuggs like me to see a an old hero only to look around and realize, hey, we're our parents now!

Bob and
band came to pun crock, so "I Am Vision, I Am Sound" was rendered like "New Day Rising". The show opened with a few Sugar tracks, veered into Body Of Song, went back to Sugar and then ended with an emphasis on Husker Du classics, beginning with "I Apologize", "Chartered Trips" (I laughed/sobbed with joy on this one) and "Celebrated Summer".

The band was great but the sound was lacking, which is how it is for me at most shows. Either the sound check is designed to only sound good at the control board or it's just a given that most live shows sound like crap. Bands should tour with their own PA system and sound board. Volume should be secondary to good sound quality. Like in martial arts, you work first on speed and accuracy, then power.

This was my first show in maybe two years. I don't like concerts. The thought of standing in a crowd of smelly, inconsiderate loudmouths doesn't have the appeal it once did.

The Residents Icky Flix Tour, May 25 2001, Royce Hall, UCLA: I took the long way to UCLA, spending thirty minutes alone on the world famous Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles is a hellhole. So is NYC but that’s what you expect. People think Hollywood is like Miami, with palm trees and sunshine, but with celebrities instead of retirees. There are cool destinations in L.A. but what surrounds anything you want to get to is a bizzaro world out of old Cheech and Chong films. It must be some treat for tourists to arrive on Hollywood Blvd. only to find it a filthy wasteland infested with hookers, addicts and the screaming homeless. There’s no planning and no civic pride. Maybe all Sunset Blvd. needs is some paint and a week’s worth of rain. Yellow smog washed over everything.

Sunset miraculously becomes well maintained once you enter Beverly Hills. Huh…. UCLA soon follows and it’s a lovely campus. Squirrels chased each other through majestic trees and the ambiance is idyllic (Sigh)… The architecture is amazing. Royce Hall was built in 1929 and modeled after the Sant' Ambrogio Church in Milan in a style called “Lombard Romanesque”. Lordy lord is it impressive - huge in scale and detailed to the square inch. At a certain point of contemplation it seems like overkill, but at least thousands of slaves didn’t die creating it to satisfy the ego of a despot ruler. Craftsmanship meant more back then to both management and labor. I was truly awed by the grandeur of the hall.

The show was (I think) sold out, and the crowd ran the gamut from elderly arts patrons to your typically doughy Residents fan with odd patches of facial hair. The kind of people who add code to every video game they play. Residents shows also invariably attract a few guys who look and act like Travis Bickle, Robert De Niro’s character in Taxi Driver.

The Residents are touring in support of their great DVD project Icky Flix, featuring old and new visual muti-media along with an alternate audio track of newly recorded versions of the originals. The DVD was manipulated in real time and shown on a screen above the stage. The show opened with a tubby (and probably original) Resident in traditional tux and eyeball head walking to center stage and proudly displaying a DVD player remote control, which he then ceremoniously pointed to the screen to begin the festivities. Four musicians played behind two wide rectangular frames covered in muslin, the center open for Big Rez and goddess Molly Harvey to come out and act out a bit, but not too much. I guess the intent was not to steal much attention from the videos, which worked to their advantage, especially after the endlessly repeated hand motions and foot stomping that came with the Wormwood show a few years back.

Big Rez limited himself to a pigeon-toed cripple’s gait, for reasons unknown, and the headpiece he wore was a cross between a skull and a contorted insect’s head. Styrofoam balls hung on the ends of long springs planted into the top of the mask, confirming the insect motif. I have no idea. Molly wore a long go-go dancer wig that glowed pink under the day-glow light that crowned her place behind the muslin. She wore a long black dress slit down one side, huge yellow galoshes and tacky sunglasses. She worked the stage well and her loose-limbed dancing was really something to see.

Most of Icky Flix was performed, the long and meaningless “Vileness Fats” being an obvious exception. The crowd called out favorites as the DVD ran itself willy-nilly through the selections. One Resident played guitar in the ode-to-Snakefinger fashion that has become their borrowed signature. Two other Residents manipulated samples and played keyboards. The central instrument was a modified xylophone which could have easily come from Kraftwerk’s Kling Klang laboratory. With a flick of a something it could sound like drums, piano or a regular xylophone. I spent most of the evening focused on this marvelous innovation.

The show opened strong and ran pretty well throughout, but a few parts bogged down under the weight of some inherent limitations.  “Bad Day On The Midway” and “The Gingerbread Man” are what they call in Rez Speak “Concentrates”, which means they take pieces of longer works and mush them together into somewhat clumsy clusters. Both videos are visually stunning in their own way but “Bad Day On The Midway” comes off too much like the video game promo it is, while “The Gingerbread Man” is a demo reel of what would be a great full-length piece. They make absolutely no sense on their own, which must have confused the hell out of the arts patrons, which to be honest represents a huge opportunity to The Residents as an ongoing business. I get the pieces because I know The Residents inside and out, and I feel cheated because I want them to be coherent and finish the job. The Residents suffer from serious ADD.

I’m not asking them to sell out, whatever that means. All I know is that avant-garde performers like Cirque du Soliel, The Blue Man Group and Mummenshanz are making a killing both creatively and financially. The Residents have the resume and reputation to fill up Royce Hall. Why then does Big Rez have to mumble incoherently by design? Why does every word have to come out like “Bleh Blah Bluh!!!!”? And why the hell does “Burn Baby Burn” have to be played as a dirge? The original is so ironically joyous and Molly sings it so beautifully.

I’d have to rate this show a B. The King And Eye tour was an A, The 13th Anniversary tour I’d give a B-, and Woodworm ranks a C.

Leatherface, August 10, Showcase Theater, Corona, CA.: I saw a show once in a downtown Baltimore craphole located in the basement of a derelict strip joint. The entrance was through an alley and down concrete stairs. There was no sign and no handle on the metal door, but you could wedge in your fingers and pull the door open. Down a litter-strewn hallway was a cinder block room with a bare stage and old couches in the corner. Now THAT was cool. The Showcase Theater is simply a hellhole, the kind of place that gets cleaned once a never. It’s were you can't take a leak without being seen by everyone walking down the hallway.

I didn't get frisked on the way in, so it pays to be old sometimes. Leatherface is touring with Dillinger Four and Avail, which makes no sense to me but punk is a young person's game. In a perfect world Leatherface would be played at high school football games by marching bands. This isn't a perfect world. Rap has teamed up with Heavy Metal to fight against boy bands and kiddie porn female singers for world domination. I hope they all kill each other.

To say I was looking forward to seeing Leatherface is like saying a bulimic looks forward to driving the porcelain bus after eating a cheescake. I thought I'd be fighting back tears of joy the whole time since I love them so much. Instead, I stood there mumbling to myself how much they sucked. The sound was mush (clever album title reference, kids!), Frankie was drunk off his ass and they played so fast every possible nuance was lost in a blur of thrash. I’m reminded of seeing The Business play twices. The first time they were great because they played oi as it is and should be - mid-paced punk with clever guitar chord progressions. The second time they thought they were The Bad Brains and the result was a disaster.

Leatherface is like no other band in the world. Their two guitar attack is unmatched in creativity and separation. Not that you could tell by this show. It was a wall of bland fuzz with little distinction. Leatherface needs and deserves a decent sound check. If it takes a lower volume to separate the instruments in the mix, then so be it. Leatherface is first and foremost a band marked by emotion and creativity. Screw the volume if the other two get lost. Also, slow it down. What's the big hurry? In most cases at this point I'd say it's not always necessary to recreate the albums live, but with Leatherface I'd say that should be the goal. That's how distinctive they are. That's the standard they should strive for every night on the road. Dazzle 'em with talent, not speed and volume. Yeah.

I'll see Leatherface again next month when they headline their own tour. Hopefully they'll feel more comfortable and Frankie will be sober enough to play. Which reminds me - Buy Horsebox and Mush.

 Concert Review: Sense Field, The Killingtons, No Motiv, Autolux, at Chain Reaction, Anaheim, CA, 1-29-00: It’s rare there’s a show I really want to see. I don’t go see whatever band is playing because even with bands I know I don’t like hearing songs I’ve never heard before. All ages clubs are a hang-out so a certain percentage of kids go every week regardless of who’s on the bill. You can either listen to bands or hang out with friends. Good bands are a bonus, I guess. I really wanted to see Sense Field so off I went to Anaheim, the quasi-industrial strip mall that surrounds Disneyland.

The first band, Autolux, went on at 8 PM and I missed most of their set. I did notice both a man and woman in the band eerily resembled Winona Ryder. After they finished and the lights came on I started a running count of how many kids looked at me like I was either 1) Somebody's dad, 2) A Narc, or 3) Chester The Molester. The tally worked out to be 55%, 40%, 5%. Then I checked to see if I was the oldest guy in the room. Outside of some staff the answer was yes oh god yes! Sense Field plays bars too but this was where they were playing so there I was, in teen daycare. I was very happy California’s non-smoking law was being enforced and I laughed when I stepped outside only to be choked by cigarette smoke. I ran inside for some fresh air. No Motiv were next and they were formulaic but not bad. The drummer beat the hell out of his skins so that’s four extra points right there. They were definitely an emo band but had an appeal for fans of whatever passes for SoCal Punk. They delved into the grunge well a little too often for my liking but since the crowd would have liked nothing more than an evening of Nirvana covers, what the hell do I know? Something tells me I might enjoy their studio work more, since emo tends to rely on that to perfect the subtle intricacies of the original songwriting.

I took a break to hose down a urinal and noted how bathroom graffiti has dumbed down over the years. The only insightful scribble was marred by poor spelling, “Capitalism=Caniblism=Ch@os!”, and something called the “Orange County Pirate Crew” left their magic marker scratches all over the place. I stood around some more and wondered why so many people looked so damn unhappy. I also noticed that every single person wearing glasses chose frames once reserved for nerds. I like that look myself but when did anti-glamour take over completely? I was also happy they didn’t blast music between bands, because it turns conversations into screaming matches.

The Killingtons were very good but the sound system and other technical difficulties killed them (excuse the pun). The mixing board sounded like top quality mono. Since it was an emo show there was no stage diving or pit moshing. Instead, hardcore nerds pumped their open hands in the air and crowd surfed what must have been their skinniest member. It balanced out because the arms holding him up were pencil thin too. The “Look at me! I’m a jerk!” gene also exists in the emo scene.

10:30 PM and time for the headliners, Sense Field -- The Steely Dan of grunge, the Pink Floyd of punk, the hardest and loudest combo of REM and The Smiths you could ever imagine. Building is a phenomenal CD. Their next release has been pushed back a number of times, strangely by the band themselves who can’t seem to decide what they want. Emo has an oft-deserved rep for being wimpy but Sense Field play it loud and fast. As compared to Joan of Arc concerts which feature the sound of 200 hankies blowing in an audience who otherwise don’t move a muscle. Emo is grunge for kids who bathe, do well in schoo, and aspire to more in life than having a car to hang out in all night at the 7-11. Sense Field are superior songwriters who know how to hit and maintain melodic frenzies. They’re better than whoever the hell is their competition. Maybe The Promise Ring owns the emo market that prefers acoustic over electric, but like Naked Raygun, Sense Field Rule The Wasteland. Yeah, it’s emo, but Sense Field is really great and just as powerful as the latest ’77 punk comp you just bought because the cover looked so punk. Remember, I’m laughing at you, not with you. 

Concert Review: The Huntingtons, Dingees, Lugnut, Pushover: Chain Reaction September 4, 1999, Anaheim, CA: God bless The Huntingtons. Since they're a "Tooth & Nail" Christian band I assume that's the appropriate thing to say. Not all the bands were Christian, at least openly, but the place was filled with holy kids out for some Jesus approved hijinx. A youth leader told me Christians have accepted moshing in His name. I asked security if these shows were easier to than secular punk shows, and was told the Christian metal band they had the other week got pretty wild. Well, duh, metal is Satan's enema bag no matter how you flavor it. Except for the t-shirts the crowd didn't look any different than your average all-ages crowd, though I happily noted a lack of crusties. So, it also smelled rosier. There were lots of tattoos on guys with beat up Christian punk t-shirts. One wore a Huntingtons shirt with a picture of Joey Ramone on the front and on the back it said "What Would Joey Do?" This is also the name of a song they wrote. Very cool and not what you'd expect. Maybe these folks do have a sense of humor.

As far as proselytizing goes, Lugnut's singer tossed out a "Pray for us" that drew no response, and twice the crowd yelled for a Stryper cover, which everyone thought was hysterical. All in all, everyone kept it in their pants, as it were. The crowd moshed some throughout the night and even managed a few slam pits during the Huntingtons. But, since nobody was out to hurt their neighbors the pit was harmless and operated the way punks always claim they should. It was very nice to not see a room full of assholes with bad attitudes. That's what makes your standard all-age show so incredibly stupid - middle class kids dressing like bums and acting like malicious, defective cretins. Emo shows must be like this too (except nobody moves unless they have to unfog their glasses).

Band 1: Pushover - I suspected an Asian Man Records band and was right. The clues were a) Asian members, b) ska punk, and c) SoCal origins. They were good, if you like ska punk from young bands. That's so last week for me so I just listened politely. Band 2: Lugnut - made a lot of noise that added up to very little. Kind of like SNFU. Songs lacked structure. Band 3: Dingees - Op Ivy clones with two lead singers who both play sax, a band that would rap over metal if Jesus would only let them. The singers often belted out the same lyrics, which only made the rap leanings that much more glaring. Band 4: The Huntingtons - after The Lillingtons these guys do the best Screeching Weasel/Ramones act around. They have a Ramones fixation (a swiped dress code, logo and two CDs of covers to prove it) but the music is closer to good mid-90s Weasel. They played a lot off my fave, High School Rock, and kept the two minute blasts a-coming. All three guitarists are graduates of the Johnny Ramone school. I loved it.

The show started at 8:15 and ended by 11:00. In my perfect geezer world that's how every concert would operate. See a long show and my head hits the pillow before midnight? Did that really happen last night or was I dreaming? God bless The Huntingtons. What would Joey do?

 Concert Review: The Teen Idols, The Lillingtons, June 12, 1999, LaCanada Community Center, CA: You know me. I think The Kidz should be ground into a paste and spread out in pastures to help grow carrots and onions. I don't go to all-age shows unless the bands are not to be missed, and nothing was going to keep me from seeing The Lillingtons. It's been a few months and I'm still using Death By Television as my weight lifting inspiration on the ol' Walkperson. I'm a big Teen Idols fan too and would have gone just to see them play - but The Lillingtons, man, The Lillingtons…oh, dude…

LaCanada is a city north of Los Angeles and it's naturally green, which differs from the urban/suburbanized smog desert that is the real L.A. Hidden on a side street is the Community Center, and as I walked into the lot a BMX putz zipped around the corner, weaving both left and right to avoid me before just rolling into me dead center. This is what they call in religion a Sign, and I took it to mean The Kidz would be loud, proud and stoopid. Being from good suburban homes these delicate delinquents thankfully weren't much of a threat to themselves or others.

There were a few opening bands I didn't head in to see because what I heard coming out of the hall was your standard "I read about this political issue in the latest issue of MRR and now I'm going to yell at you for an hour about how you should think and feel for yourselves", followed by crusty punk that’s death metal without the humor. Fortunately I recognized the Teen Idols and Lillingtons, who were loitering around the tour truck, and hung out with them the whole night. The secret of talking to bands is 1) Don't treat them like gods, and 2) Don't try to impress them by being an asshole. All I can say about them is that they're some of the nicest folks you'd ever want to meet. Heather from the Idols is such a hoot and the guys from the Lillingtons give Wyoming a good name. Most people don't even realize Wyoming exists. I think the whole state has one zip code. Along for a few weeks of the tour was the cutest pretzel maker of any mall in Tennessee.

Both bands had been on the road for months yet still managed to have fun and not go postal. Heather was ticked they were playing a community center outside of L.A., and that the scheduled gig the night before was never confirmed and therefore never happened. Tim from the Lillingtons told me that he called himself "Timmy V." on the first album as a tribute to Tesco Vee, and that at home in Wyoming one of them worked in a coal mine, another in an oil field and the other in a grocery store. He said the darker tone of their new CD was done to make the band less of a novelty act. It's a great record and you should own a few copies. We chatted about black lung for a while and then it was time to play.

The Lillingtons were great. I actually got a little misty during their set because I was so caught up in Kody's Ramones-ish chords I lost sense of time and place. I hadn't felt that transfixed by live music since Husker Du fifteen years ago. I go to shows and am usually not impressed for odd reasons, like the bands play too fast or the sound sucks. I stand there and enjoy the music but I'm wondering what the next song will be. With the Lillingtons I was constantly in the moment and having the concert experience a lot of people around me are always having (as I look on in disgust and envy). I bought a Lillingtons t-shirt, bumper sticker and button so the boys could buy all the corn dogs and pop they wanted that night at the 7 Eleven or wherever a band eats on the road. If you think a band makes money from playing, you are not correct sir.

Tennessee's Teen Idols headlined, and while I enjoyed their set I think they should have played to their strengths a lot more. What was a good set of great songs could have been a once in a lifetime experience. What sets them apart from the herd are their beautiful vocal harmonies, by far the best around. Their entire set should be built around this. They should insist on a proper sound check to balance the microphones and present the harmonies with the same power and beauty of their studio recordings. I also think they played a little too fast, which again takes away from the harmonies. The Idols have a unique (for punk) visual motif of slicked back hair and stage microphones of the Sinatra school of crooning. These are striking images the band can capitalize on - if they make their live presentation as impressive as their image and harmonies. I'm not putting down their set for what it was, I'm just saying they have a vocal gift and a coherent image that can be parlayed into not just another great show for a Saturday night but an experience to be remembered for a long time.

Two of the world's best power pop punk bands and they toured together. It's rare to see any good PPP band blow into town so this was a real treat for me. I hope it's not another fifteen years before I get into a live set as much as I did this night. I also hope I never have to see another show at the day-care centers otherwise known as all-ages shows. 

Concert Review: The Angry Samoans, Secret Hate, Nip Drivers, May, 1999, The Foothills, Long Beach, CA: The smell of idiocy hangs thick in the air as I pass groups of thugs dressed like every third punk stereotype, their constant cursing the icing on very dumb looking cakes. Long Beach, located just south of Los Angeles, has as many dumb aggressive drunks as cities ten times its size. There's certain bands you know not to see because their fans can’t control their alcohol consumption, their mouths and their fists. I thought it was only at skin shows where the crowd made it a point to wear out the band’s welcome almost immediately. I was wrong.... and oh yeah, if you plan on seeing Suicidal Tendencies in Los Angeles be sure to provide for your loved ones by purchasing extra life insurance.

I came to see The Angry Samoans, one of the great bands in punk history. They managed to piss off everyone who might have helped them and wrote some of the best songs around. Secret Hate and the Nip Drivers are older bands you might remember from the early ‘80s LA scene. They came and went and now they're came again. Secret Hate is riding a wave of new popularity, partly because Sublime covered a song of theirs. I think the Nip Drivers are just looking for a reason to get out of the house.

The Nip Drivers played everything at such a blurred pace I couldn't figure out how they could make so much noise without producing actual the occasional chord or note. I barely recognized the one song I know, "Tang", from an old Mystic Records comp. A lot of people don't ask any more from their music than loud and fast. That's what the Nip Drivers gave them. I stood behind a woman who's the girlfriend of one of the Nip Drivers. She danced in her chair the whole time in support of her man. It's not like she couldn't have stood up or anything.

I retreated to the back and met Metal Mike working a table selling Angry Samoan t-shirts and CDs. For a half hour I helped sell stuff and goofed around with drummer Bill Vockeroth, a nice guy with no rock star attitude. Metal Mike had a look on his face the whole time like he forgot something important and was trying to remember. A really loud drunk kept on coming by telling Metal Mike he hoped they don't suck that night, which was said in a friendly way by a guy way to drunk to have tact. It was a Candid Camera moment.

Secret Hate followed and played the same GeneriCore as the Nip Drivers. They're on the Hell Come To Your House comp and their old (average at best) LP has been re-issued on CD. The band is trying to re-invent themselves to appeal to the Vans Tour crowd. Their new material was written to appeal to the yobs in the 100th row, not the numbnut up front with a beer in one hand and the other in his pocket playing pool. A little dub reggae, a little glam rockin' - I think they're covering every base on the road to fame and fortune. Maybe they hope to be the next Sublime. I wish them luck but I have no interest in whatever they’re selling. Secret Hate has to be a major label marketing dept. nightmare.

The Samoans went on late because Secret Hate played like they were the headliners. Mike sold me a video tape of the band live from a few years back, compiled from a few shows. I'm surprised they play the same set they were doing three years ago. They're still doing a dance contest to "Tequila" in the middle of their set! Mike spent too much time baiting the audience, which grew old quick because the breaks between songs were too long and Metal Mike is no Lee Ving. The guy looks like Radar O'Reilly and on a fat day can't weigh more than 140 lbs. You have to close your eyes to be legitimately heckled by this guy.

The old songs were great, of course. "Gas Chamber", "Lights Out", "My Old Man's A Fatso", Homo-Sexual", "You Stupid Jerk", "Gimme Soper", "Right Side Of My Mind", "The Ballad of Jerry Curlan" - if you don't know these songs you ain't punk. Bill told me that Jerry Curlan was a friend of Metal Mike's family that was always held out as an example of the "good child". I thought he was a politician or something.

When the Angry Samoans played they were great. Between songs they put me to sleep. If they tightened up their set they'd have the best retro-show around.

oncert Review: The Residents playing WORMWOOD, April 24th, 1999, The House of Blues, Los Angeles, CA: Haley's Comet of live acts, The Residents, shot through town nine years after their triumphant "Cube-E: the history of American Music in 3 e-z pieces" tour, this time to support their latest opus, "Wormwood: Curious Stories from the Bible". Cube-E was and will always be the greatest cultural experience of my life. Wormwood, while not unworthy of praise, only made my memories of that last performance that much stronger.

I detail my likes and dislikes of the Wormwood CD elsewhere in this zine, but to sum up my problems with the work: 1) The lyrics are obtuse, 2) some of the drumming is of the cutesy off- Broadway musical variety, 3) too much of the singing is farmed out to other, non-Residential voices, and 4) too many songs are too slow and dull. The live show corrected some of these problems and created some more on its own.

The live show is narrated by the lead Resident wearing a full-face skull helmet with moving mouth and built-in microphone. He struts around the stage giving background on the songs to come, cracks jokes and makes pointed insights like "Nowhere in the good book does it say Jesus loves you." His voice didn't project clearly from the helmet and I missed some of his commentary. I imagine he had to really exaggerate his jaw movements in order to make the skull mouth open and close effectively. The narration did help compensate for the song's lack of self-contained storytelling but I still wish the original lyrics were stronger. The drumming was the best part of the show. A full seated drum kit, a set of large kettle drums and a gong were beaten all night with a power and authority missing from the CD. The percussion compensated for a bass, guitar and keyboard trio that either didn't distinguish themselves or lacked the material to do so. The guitarist, while competent, had to do a Snakefinger imitation without trying to be too obvious. I give them extra points, especially the drummer, for performing while wearing a large plastic eyeball over their heads.

It's always a thrill to see the lead Resident, who's been doing this for some thirty years, singing, dancing and working his magic. His demented insight into the history of popular American music is truly frightening, and to see him in his zone is inspiring. Keeping up with him every goddamn step of the way was Molly Harvey - actress, singer, dancer and Ralph Records office grunt. The first half of the show they alternated stage appearances, and in the second they mostly sang as a team. She's good, she's very good. I know who the Residents are and I'm sure by now most Residents fans know who the Residents are. Their shtick is anonymity so we respect that, but Molly is so important to The Residents I wish she would be given more credit by the media and the Residents as an organization. Maybe she is. She’s half the act.

The second half of the show was better than the first. Too many slow songs with indecipherable lyrics were performed up front and most songs were guilty of utilizing a stage prop for whatever effect you can get for a few minutes. For "God's Magic Finger" the singer had a giant finger attached to his hand, which he waved and wagged while he sang and moved around the stage. Molly did some stage business with a rolled up carpet during "Tent Peg In The Temple". There's only so much you can do with a rolled up carpet besides wave it around and stand it up. During the second half the singers worked the stage together and the interaction (and better songs) made for better theater. The Residents also did something I rarely see: they slowed down some songs instead of speeding them up. "Jesus Christ Superstar", "There's No Business Like Show Business", "We're An American Band" and "Gimme That Old Time Religion" were bastardized and incorporated into the show, and a few new numbers were added. What they performed bore only partial resemblance to the CD.

Did I like the show? Yes and no. I wish they'd performed less idle stage business and didn't string together slow, average songs. The narration was great but the song selection could have been stronger. If they performed "I Hate Heaven" I would have been as happy as a tapeworm in Pavarotti's upper intestine. Besides that it's always a thrill and an honor to see The Residents. That Cube E was never filmed will always irk me to no end. If you could have seen that show you'd know how great The Residents are and can be.

The House of Blues in Los Angeles is amazing. The entire place is a work of art containing works of art. A restaurant is above the performance space and separate, but at show time two huge sections of the upper area pivot out so that those above can see the show. It's almost worth seeing a show just to see the top part of the club swing open. I stood next to a really nice guy who's seeing every US show. He seemed normal enough, especially compared to the guy on the other side who had his face painted like this was a KISS concert.

Concert Review: The Eyeliners, Groovie Ghoulies, Mr. T. Experience, The Foothills, Long Beach, CA, 4-15-99: I discovered last night there's a whole plethora of activities that go on after I go to sleep at 8PM. Pool halls, movies, coffee houses and even concerts! I went to one the other night at Long Beach's famous Foothills, a 1922-vintage country music dancehall that's a bit run down but hasn't lost an ounce of charm. They say Pelvis hung out there. From the smell coming out of the bathroom I'd say his ghosts' still eating fried banana and peanut butter sandwiches. Oh, and there's nothing like taking a leak in a trough. The idea of pissing against a tile wall is as sexy as it sounds..

When I arrived at 10PM there was a good sized crowd. By the time the headliners went up the place was half filled. Why? Because people have jobs to go to the next day. I'm still waiting for a good explanation as to why weekday shows can't start at 8PM for us working people.

The Eyeliners, three sisters from Albuquerque, New Mexico, finally played Long Beach after a few canceled dates. I have their CD on Sympathy and I like it a lot. They sound like Sleater-Kinney when that band plays as hard and fast as they can. The Foothill PA system isn't that loud, which I prefer over the usual sounds of jets zipping past my head, so I was able to get close enough to the stage to enjoy their good-natured stage presence and creative hooks. On every song the bass, guitar and drums all do their own thing and it comes together very nicely with power and style. Laura on drums sings most of the songs so she gets extra credit for keeping her head still while she's working her arms and legs like a Jackie Chan movie. Gel on the guitar worked her part of the stage like she was trying to step on a hundred roaches making a run for it in every direction. I thought her playing was in the Gene Vincent meets Ramones mold, but she claims John Callis of the Rezillos is her inspiration. Lisa on bass just stood there with a smile on her face like she knew a secret and was taunting you by not telling. They're touring all over with the Groovie Ghoulies so check 'em out. They also have a web site at www.theeyeliners.com

Next up were the Groovie Ghoulies, a band I've seen twice before. They have a new album which I haven't heard, and at shows I hate hearing new songs. I'm a child and I like the comfort of knowing ongs so I can sing along and hear how the band changes things live. With new songs I just stand there wondering what's going to happen next. The Ghoulie's new songs came off as fairly generic, which may not be the case on the CD. I didn't get into their set at all, which is a shame because I like them very much.

So it's some god forsaken hour like 1AM and the Mr. T. Experience hits the stage to a room now half empty. MTX's catalog has a lot of great songs and a lot of generic songs. The few times I've seen them live they played WAY to many generic tunes for me to get into them. If they'd play my list of personal favorites I'd travel a hundred miles to see them (oh to hear "Marine Recruiter" and "Danny Partridge" one after the other). But as it was I left after a few songs and thanked my lucky stars smoking is not allowed in California bars. I made it home at 2AM and woke up at 6:30 the next day. How people do this every week is beyond me. When I'm dictator all shows will start at 8 PM and end by 11 PM. Ice cream will cost a nickel and you kids will respect your elders.

Concert Review: Sloppy Seconds, at Moguls, Los Angeles 12-12-98: I drove two hours each way to see this. Not many bands I want to see stop by San Diego, and I'd go anywhere to see Sloppy Seconds. Moguls is off Hollywood Boulevard. I think I saw runaway teenage hookers from the Midwest, just like in the movies. Los Angeles is New York City with palm trees and no zoning codes. It’s charming, eccentric and all wrong. I arrived at 8:00 PM because the recorded message said there were pre-sales and the show might be sold out soon! Well, only fifty people made it to the show so I stood outside next to the smokers for nothing. In the distance I saw four searchlights reaching into the sky. I can't imagine anyone driving down a freeway thinking, "My god, a new car dealer or two-bit circus must need my help. Hurry!" There must be some kind of residual glamour from the old days of Hollywood that still closes the deal for searchlights used to promote things, but still, how dumb.

Moguls itself is pretty interesting, with its high ceilings, barn-like atmosphere and weird pieces of art. Signs behind the bar say "All Purchases Include A Pizza". With my $3.50 plastic cup of beer came a cube of pizza the size of a Scrabble letter. Just enough to get me pissed off for the taste of pizza. Being that tiny I couldn't even say if the pizza was good. Since I kinda know Sloppy Seconds I was invited back to the Green Room, painted a shade of green not found in nature. I stood over the cheap deli tray whispering "You fold it" from Spinal Tap.

Some Sloppy Seconds background: They sound like a cross between Chuck Berry and the Ramones. These Junk Rock innovators didn't do much the last few years after losing original guitarist Roadkill. When I saw them a few years back in Baltimore they were touring with a guitarist from G-Whiz who could only play power chords. What the show lacked in guitar heroics it made up for in loud, fast, obnoxious fun. B.A. lit a smoke bomb near the end of their set and we all evacuated the building to escape the noxious fumes. Good times, good times. New guitarist Ace Hardware finally came on board and he's picked up where Roadkill left off. Ace isn't 1/5 the man Roadkill is, but if he eats like the rest of the band he'll be a tub before you know it. Their latest CD, More Trouble Than Their Worth, is out on Nitro. My favorite is still Knock Yer Block Off, on Taang! They're from Indianapolis and came before the Vindictives, not after.

Their set was great as usual. B.A.'s shirt was so small it didn't pull down over his massive gut. His pants were so low you could see his crack from behind. During the show people up front rubbed his belly like he was Buddha. There were only fifty people but the crowd was into it. Four guys did the slow slam thing that I guess is the latest fashion in clubs that don't allow slamming. The ride home was sweet and sweaty.

Concert Review: The Real McKenzies, Mach 5 Overdrive, Dodgeball, The Casbah San Diego, 12-4-98:
I call The Casbah "The Cash Bar". It’s childish of me, but for a dive the drinks are expensive. I'm writing this review as a timeline because I was the second person in the door when they opened at 8:30. In my perfect geezer world shows start at 8:00 and end by 11:00. During the week I'm usually asleep by 9. I'm hating life if I'm not french-kissing my pillow by 9:03. This was one of those nights when the place was half-empty at midnight but for all I know it filled up at 1 AM.

8:30: Doors open as I walk up. Damn, I waited at home as long as I could and I'm the second person in the place?

9:30: The Cash Bar is still deserted. It's past my bed time and I'm getting grumpy.

10:00: Dodgeball starts their set for the eight people sitting at the side bar. They should be playing an all-ages show, not here. Dodgeball is a SoCal Punk band with an emotive female singer - like Discount. Their style is a little more mature than their peers but they're still not yet over-21 material. Drunks don’t care about a hard rocking pop punk bands. Their set lacked distinction and a few people gathered up front to see what they're getting all worked up about on stage. Do these shows even bother with a sound check?

10:20: Still deserted. Tumbleweeed rolls by my chair in the back bar. The doorman says it's still early. Yeah, in Japan maybe! I’m forced to read a free local zine about beer and barbecue. They were so busy getting it printed they forgot to add content. Found another zine on swing music. Reminded me of the George Carlin line, "From before you were born, kids. Remember?" The thing was well done but it's a sub-culture that seems very expensive to maintain. These people are as nutty as Civil War buffs, arguing about the smallest details of shoes and body posture. I guess I just don't have style, cat. Here, let me scat for you - poo poo pee pee caa caa doo doo yeah!

10:45: Mach 5 Overdrive comes on, and two of the four ook like they wandered off the Partridge Family bus, but they played a pretty hard driving set of garage psychedelic punk. I'd call them the Electric Frankenstein of the matching stupid haircut sound. I lasted about three songs before I started wandering. Their songs didn't know when to end. The only real impression they left was that time was moving very slowly. Still pretty desolate for a Friday night.

11:45: The Real McKenzies: If the Sex Pistols were from Scotland they would be The Real McKenzies. If The Dickies were from Scotland they'd be The Real McKenzies. The Real McKenzies are from Canada but I think they're all Scottish. They're at least all Canadian, and all foreign countries with English speaking white people in them are the same to me. Around fifty people managed to gather for their set and the band played their asses off for nothing more than showmanship. They were so much bigger than their audience - you know what I mean? I felt like apologizing to them for the city of San Diego. A punk band with a bagpipe player and they're all wearing kilts? If that doesn't make them the coolest thing since chunky spam I don't know what to think. If they were around in ‘77 the press would have crapped their pants.

While the McKenzies played a putz up front was slamming in ultra-slow motion. You can't slam in the Casbah as far as I know. Here this guy was shoving his elbows into strangers at 2 mph for no other reason than to be punk, I guess. It was like smoking an unlit cigarette in a sad display of rebellion.

Concert Review: Kill Allen Wrench, Oct 24, 1998, The Barn at USC Riverside: I took the ninety minute scooter ride to see if Allen Wrench was what I hoped he’d be – a nice guy doing a project guaranteed to raise the ire of punk’s PC police. If he was intelligent I’d rejoice because while the world may not need more than one Mentors, it does need as many Meatmen as it can handle. In person Allen Wrench reminded me a lot of Drew Carey, except Allen’s a Brazilian Judo master and ranked bare-fist fighter. Needless to say I didn’t mouth off. He introduced me to one of his guitarists, who spit tobacco and wore overalls with no shirt. This L’il Abner character was the world’s top rated Ultimate Fighter in 1996. Yoinks! He wore a Friday The 13th hockey mask on stage and looked exactly like Jason. Scary, and a week before Halloween too.

Allen Wrench is a great guy who’s putting a lot of time and effort in to his Kill Allen Wrench project. He’s even shooting a movie to expand on the El Duce/satan worshipping character he’s created. Allen came across as having a relaxed personality, but that all changed once he hit the stage made up with little devil horns and a large "X" on his forehead. His band, numbering about seven, played the hell out of hard rock-inspired punk thrashers while Allen sang and drank straight out of a pitcher. If you live anywhere near L.A. you should .check out Kill Allen Wrench and feel the love of "Hate-Edge".

The show took place at the UCR Barn located on the Riverside campus. If you’ve ever been to summer camp you’d recognize the building to be of the cheaply built wood Meeting Hall variety. While on the campus it’s not a college hangout, which is odd. A lot of big shows get booked there. The place is all ages but there’s a beer garden in the backyard that’s something to see. It’s a deck built under a 20’ tree whose branches come out very close to the ground and cover a massively wide area, so it’s like drinking beer in a tree house. To drink you have to show ID and then they strap on a color wristband, which I wear forever so I can walk down the street in a dirty bathrobe asking strangers for change for the bus back to the hospital. Hey, it’s a living.

In crowd watching news: there were two guys wearing sunglasses after dark. Kids ran around like screaming idiots on Jolt Cola while adults stood there looking cool, periodically sneering at the kids, sometimes out of jealousy. One guy wore long and baggy jeans shorts that came down just below his knee. It made him look like a midget. A lot of people looked around constantly with two questions in their eyes – 1) What am I doing?, and 2) Am I doing it right? My theory that the wrong women wear either too little or too much clothing was proven once again, along with the"Guy Math equation that the more guys together in a group the more likely each will act like a total asshole. Ah, an evening more fun than the mall and five times the aggressive stupidity. 

Concert Review: Buck, October 12, 1998, Spaceland, Silverlake, CA: From the outside Spaceland looks like a strip club. A neon sign reads "Dreams", which only adds to the effect. Inside it looks like a rock club built by men whose enthusiasm for making things far exceeded their abilities. There's a cool bar in the back that's retro-futuristic. They took cheap old scooter helmets and turned them into hanging lamps, and the furniture is what ‘70s designers thought the future held for home design. I would have stayed longer but the cigarette smoke was toxic.

Buck, kind-o-formerly Cub, played in preparation for their upcoming tour with close friends The Queers. This was Lisa G.'s last show before heading back to The Frozen White North. I guess she doesn't like Los Angeles. L.A. and N.Y. are cities you either love or hate with a passion. There's lots to do but people are flaming assholes. Bass player and lead singer Lisa Marr is great. She looks like the actress who plays Lisa on News Radio. Her singing and facial expressions move from sweet to harsh and back with no trace of contradiction. Cub, I mean Buck, can do no wrong in my book so my four hours of total driving time to see the show (on a school night too) was well worth it. This is not much of an actual show review but I loved every song. Without the additional guitar and added vocals (heard on the album) the sound was a lot rougher than you'd think, which made the set less textured and subtle than it could have been. Live they come across more like The Muffs. Buy the CD and see them with The Queers. Buy a Buck pillowcase, even though it’s red and bleeds when you wash it. Say hi to Lisa. Stop picking your nose.

I know punks aren't fashion conscious in the least but I need some advice. When watching a punk concert should I have my hands down balled into fists or folded in front like I'm protecting myself from the world? Help me out. I want to look natural at these punky rock shows. Doh! 

Concert Review - Los Maricones Ramones & Ziggy Shuffledust & The Creedles From Mars, 7-4-98, The Casbah, San Diego: All covers on the 4th of July, with fireworks blasting all around San Diego on the way to the Casbah, for me a club famous for the sarcastic answer I always get when I ask a simple question at the door. This time it was "Have the bands shown up yet?", the answer being, "Yeah, we don't pay 'em unless they do." Boy, did I feel stupid.

A KISS tribute band opened and positioned myself as far away from the stage as possible, fearing my lack of advanced math skills may have kept me precious inches closer to the KISS experience than I hoped. These face-painted dentists drilled my teeth without anesthesia for thirty minutes. Afterwards they walked around still sporting their KISS makeup. If that helps them get laid, well then, right on dudes!

Los Maricones Ramones are really local legends The Dragons, who in their own act lean more toward Hanoi Rocks. Mario didn't butcher the lyrics as badly as the Japanese on the import It's Alive lyric sheet, but he did cut them up a bit. They covered all the hits up till 1980 and fun was had by all. Note to band: the bass player, not the singer, yells"1 2 3 4!" between songs. To do otherwise is against both god and nature.

Ziggy Shuffledust is actually the band Creedle, but tonight they were honoring Bowie as Ziggy as Major Tom as the Aladdin Sane. I guess they couldn't afford real glam clothes so they came out wearing wigs and dresses, which reminds me there’s only a slight difference between glam rock and transvestism. The lead singer had a massive head so the look was more Patrick Swayze in To Wong Foo than the Thin White Duke. Lots of retro- fun but they should have played faster and louder. Extra points awarded for the swingin' sax lines.

I love cover bands. I wish there were more punk and new wave cover bands. Like a two year old I like knowing every song, and I generally don't get into bands if I've never heard them before. I also don't like seeing a band play a lot of new material I've never heard before. Without the familiarity I usually stand there quietly, which is not what I want to do at a concert. When I saw The Specials many moons ago they barely touched their first album. What a rip-off! The Go-Gos and Our Daughter's Wedding opened that show.

Concerts are always opportunities for me to dwell on my own social inadequacies, so that's what I did. I possess the social confidence of a teenager with enough zits to function as a star map of the universe. I look cool, I brood like the big kids do, I even drink cheap beer until my skin turns pale, yet still I don't think I'm fitting in. I suspect most people have no idea what they're doing when they go out. They pretend to be the people they want others to see in them, and if you fake it long enough maybe you do actually become who you want to be. I look forward to the chance to see a show I actually want to see, but once I get there I wonder why I left the house. It's like when I'm not working out I think about working out, but once I'm in the gym I'm daydreaming about what's on tv that night.

I've noticed that most people should be wearing a lot more clothes than they do, and some should be required to loosely cover up as much skin as possible. It ain't pretty out there, you know. My favorites at any club are the older people trying to prove to themselves they can still par-tay, at least until the baby sitter goes into double overtime.

Concert Review - The Lazy Cowgirls 6-5-98, The Casbah, San Diego : Have I mentioned I have the social skills of an awkward teenager? Concerts in bars are freak shows of attitude & costume and I think I'm way too aware of it compared to everyone around me (who seem right at home). At shows I usually look lost. The Casbah in San Diego has been around forever and is bigger inside than it appears from the outside. There are apartments directly above, so between the bands and the jets that almost literally skip off the roof before landing I can't imagine who the hell would live there. The Casbah crowd is similar to what you find most anywhere now - the gals opting for the Betty Page look while the guys favor the Gearhead reading, Rat Fink worshipping, tattoos down the arm, Devil's Chin facial hair, punky/rockabilly greaser look. Also slightly mod dark sunglasses and wallets on chains for bruisers who collect Hot Wheels. Here, let me paint a picture for you.

I moved to SoCal partly to see good shows, and The Lazy Cowgirls are great. Their the most underappreciated band I can think of, and they've been around since 1985. Fronted by Pat Todd, who is 60% Danny DeVito and 40% Lee Ving, The Cowgirls are a punk/roots rock force of nature. A Cowgirl's rookie standing next to me was really getting into the show and he said they sounded like Social Distortion...if they were good! If Social D. was The Ramones with Chuck Berry on second guitar, maybe that's what The Lazy Cowgirls sound like. All I know is that live every song is a freight train. Sometimes you get the feeling you've heard that train before, but they deliver with such power and confidence it doesn't count against them. They went on second, a happy surprise for this geezer since they were listed as headliners. The floor was only half-filled, and after the show Pat told me they usually don't do well in San Diego. The night was still young and the usual crowds weren't there yet. The Cowgirls own L.A., New York and Europe, where they had just came back from a long tour. Anyway, The Lazy Cowgirls were great and I got home by midnight. Life (sometimes) is good.

The Business, Dropkick Murphys, Snap-Her, Labor League: 3-24-98 San Diego Showcase Theatre: Standing in the loosely formed line I felt like a runaways' dad looking for my punk kid so I could drag him back home for family counseling. Some of The Kids looked at me like that too. I never remember the lesson of concerts past, that I should never go to all-age shows, no matter who’s playing. I feel like I'm in a day care center for brain damaged youth. The big thing at age fifteen seems to be a contest of who can be the loudest and stupidest, the prize being loudness and stupidity. I see many skins in attendance, of the non-racist variety yet always good for a rumble, so the goofier looking posers are keeping a low profile.

The Business. Not the flashiest of the old oi bands, but the real deal with many great songs to their name. Only Cock Sparrer are better. The Business took some years off but they've been back for a while now to cash in on the ongoing oi revival.

Labor League played mostly covers from old oi and street punk records. Not bad but it was so loud I sat outside the hall. I don't think it's punk to be deaf, but that's just me. L.A.'s Snap-Her played a set of snotty thrashers that rocked a little more than their early releases. Lead Snap Andi Beltramo handed me her business card, and on it she claims to be the "Queen Bitch of Rock N Roll". The card also describes her as a "Bilingual Vocalist". The Dropkick Murphys are the best new street punk band with a huge following, adding some ska and a lot of Irish drinking music to the mix, allowing them to alternate between slow and fast at will. They were tight and professional. The crowd yelled along with every song and at least fifty fists pumped the air at all times.

Finally... The Business. I saw them in 1995 at a small hall in Las Vegas and they were great. Tonight not so great. The sound mix was crap and they thrashed through every song. This is oi, not the Bad Brains. Oi is not hardcore, it's mid-paced punk. The show was being filmed and I felt bad that they were catching a great band at a low point. I left after my favorite Business song, "Out In The Cold", which at that speed probably clocked in 45 seconds short.

Marky Ramone and The Intruders (1-3-97) (IOTA, Arlington, VA): Washington DC stinks for concerts. There are flyers-only shows, but who wants to drive out to UFO Country to see straight-edge or metal-punk bands play to a sweaty room of adult children? If you want to see alternative music, DC is a buffet of choices. But what about acts like The Lazy Cowgirls, The Parasites, Electric Frankenstein or any other big name that appeals to an older crowd? Sorry, DC just ain’t the place. The Queers come around every so often and bring The Groovie Ghoulies with them, but otherwise it's pretty dead. So when I saw that Marky Ramone's new band was playing up the street, hell, I'd be a grumpy old shut-in not to go. The IOTA is one of many small storefront bars that have flourished in Dischord's backyard over the last decade. Kind of arty, kind of yuppie (it is Washington), but also laid back in a comfortable way. Punk clubs destroy themselves in due time so it's nice yet odd to see a punk show in a place without graffiti on the walls and toilets overflowing with piss and toilet paper. Since the minimum age is 21, the bar wasn't too crowded, and those who were there were old like me. A number of fans looked like punk versions of the old hippies who never left the ‘60s, but this may have been a rare opportunity for these folks too, so in the name of age solidarity I was happy for all of us. Some straight-looking oldsters were there too, which reminds me that you can be a VP at a big company and still slam the NY Dolls into the Audi's CD changer on the way back to the condo.

Before the show I sat at a table with The Intruders’ guitar and bass player. Nice guys, real low key, real young. Ben, the singer and guitarist, was twenty. Marky Ramone stayed outside in the van for hours until their 11:30 set. Here's the former drummer for the Ramones, the greatest punk band of all time, and now he's playing tiny holes again, sitting in a van because he's Marky Ramone and he can't hang out in the bar beforehand. It's his band but he doesn't sing. He's playing drums like nobody else but the sound and personality of the band is in the hands of others. What brought me here in the first place was seeing one of the Ramones close up. I would have endured Tin Machine just to be twenty feet from David Bowie. The Intruders tunes were decent hardcore and the fans got into it, but hell, here's Marky Ramone right next to me playing drums in a band fronted by unknown kids in a yuppie bar that's hosting a big poetry slam next week. My chicken sandwich and designer micro-beer were brought right to my table. It didn't make sense, but if I never have to see another show in a urine-reeking hall with a battalion of dimwits I'd say life was taking a turn for the better. By the way, Markey looks a lot like Kevin Neelan from Saturday Night Live.


Since you seem interested in what merry olde England must have been like in the glory days of 77-83, I thought I'd tell you about my month's adventure there.

I was 24 years old, a college graduate, had already traveled in the Far East, and was driving a cab for Arlington Yellow Cab. I was marginally associated with the DC punk scene, as you know from my past writings. My stepfather scored a six-month work-related project in London, to include a flat near the Russell Square tube station. I spent three months in Europe, to include 30 days staying with my step-dad. For the entire month, I went to a West End play one night, a club or show the other. Here's what I remember of the shows:

The first show I went to was a punk extravangza at a converted theater three blocks from our flat. Anti Nowhere League headlined, other bands were Chron Gen, Chelsea, and about six others. About 3,000 attended. My first surprise was that I was the ONLY straight-looking guy there. Everyone else, bar none, sported Mohawks, plaid or black pants, Doc Martins, leather jackets, the whole British punk regalia. There was no violence what-so-ever. About midway thru the concert, I struck up a conversation with a punk recently discharged from the British Navy who was just getting back into the scene. He invited me to come forward to pogo with the mob for the last three or four bands. That was a lot of fun, though to tell the truth, none of the bands were really that great (live, I should say, I adore to this day the first Anti-Nowhere League record).

Vice Squad and Southern Death Cult at the Marquee. The Marquee is a famous punk venue, also within walking distance of my step-dad's flat. Southern Death Cult later became somewhat trendy, but it must have been after some reconfigurations. I remember a fairly ordinary punk-pop band with a fairly innocent looking female singer. Vice Squad was always overrated, probably because of their Wendy O. Williams-imitation lead singer. (Months later, I was at the Bayou in DC watching Jim Carroll. I turned to my side and saw that singer standing next to me ((she was to play later that night at the 9:30)). She asked me if I had any coke, to which I said no. She had no further interest in talking to me!). Getting back to the Marquee, that crowd resembled your basic 9:30 crowd. I had a long conversation with one of the few skinheads about Black Flag, who had just come through.
Stray Cats at the Marquee. Again, your garden-variety cool club crowd. The place was packed, but the Stray Cats really didn't rock it to the max. Their sound live was just a little too thin to really energize a crowd (I noticed that later as well when they played in DC). Too bad, too, because I was and remain a big fan of them on record.

Tank at the Marquee. Tank was a mid-level metal band that strayed on the verge of a big break-thru later in the decade. This was one of their first shows, so if the band had made it big, I really could say I was in on the groundfloor of something huge. Unfortunately, they sucked, the crowd was lame, and I shouldn't have gone because I hate almost anything that sounds like metal.

Johnny Thunders at a club way out in the middle of nowhere, though the club is fairly well-known. He played with a bunch of London rock-and-roll/junkie Keith Richards look-alikes. Still it wasn't bad, and I'm glad to say I saw the legend and put a few bucks in his pocket (even if he probably spent it on drugs within minutes of the show's end.) The crowd was sparse, man; the word must have been out that he was playing around town only to support his habit.

The Exploited, Infa-Riot, and a reggae band at some club I'll never see again. If I remember correctly, this was some sort of rock-against-racism gig. The crowd was pure Exploited fans, however: a few punks and hundreds of skins in bomber jackets. Though I accept your thesis that violence is a fact of London street-life, there was none at this gig. Maybe I was oblivious to it all.

Gil Scott-Heron at a large nightclub-concert venue. Interesting, because Gil Scott-Heron was from Arlington, Virginia, and I'd played basketball with him a few times at the Lacey Woods courts at the corner of Washington Blvd and George Mason Drive. (His favorite statement on the courts ((said everytime you would take a shot)): "Take that J-hit"). He attracted a crowd of 5,000 or so (at a time when he probably never attracted more than a thousand in the States). It was your typical urban-hipster crowd, racially mixed. The show was fantastic, too. Scott-Heron never went on to further greatness, but for a while he really had that politicized rock/reggae/rap thing going on.

Those are the shows I remember without thinking too hard. I also spent a lot of time prowling and patrolling thru Chelsea, Carnaby Street, Brixton, Leiestcer Square, and Finsbury Park (home of Johnny Rotten, Steve Jones, et al). Never got mugged or threatened, so maybe I was charmed or luckily avoided the hardcore spots. My general impression was that the entire populace under 40 was totally into music, with a resultant smorgasbord of shows, record stores, newspapers, etc. Punks were only a small, small segment of this crowd--truly only visible around Chelsea and Leistcer Square (as well as at the shows). There were by far many more metal-heads and cross-genre fans than punks.

I never had much luck tuning into any great British radio. I did hear a station play Sham 69's "Hersham Boys." The announcer introduced it by saying it was one of the long-since-broken-up band's greatest hits from 1977. I was amazed because I figured that Sham was a cutting edge punk band that never had popular acceptance. Little did I know--their punk classics were in actuality hits in the late 70's on British pop-radio.

It really was great, at the time and in retrospect. I can't believe I haven't made a trip back

Paul Caporino of M.O.T.O.

I have never read a bad review for M.O.T.O. (Masters of the Obvious). MOTO's been around since 1981 and have released twelve singles, fourteen cassettes and four full lengths. Since 1985 MOTO has been mostly one person, Paul Caporino, who's been cranking out lo-fi classics by the boatload. Paul is not famous and at this point he probably never will be, but he's driven to make his music and as a fan I couldn't be happier. Too thrashy for K-Records fans and too eclecti" for the punks, Paul follows his own path and if you don't get it, what can he do about it? I don't get it half the time. With punk becoming ever more regimented, MOTO has even less of a chance to become a big name. Paul and I are from a time when punk was new and people came into it from other styles of music. Punk's been around so long now that it can be the only music a kid has known. MOTO is not punk enough for today's punks, and that’s punk’s loss. This interview was conducted through the mail and I was happily surprised by the honesty and completeness of Paul's answers. Who knows what to expect from the man who sings, "It tastes just like a milkshake, baby". Anyway, this interview paints a good picture on what it's like to live on the fringe of the music scene Send him a SASE for a list of inexpensive tapes, CDs, and 7"s he has for sale: MOTO, Box 578912, Chicago, IL 60657 USA.

OPWZ: MOTO has been recording pretty regularly since 1985. Are you famous yet?

PC: No, I'm not very famous, although sometimes people write about my stuff. That's nice. We don't have much of a local following in Chicago. We've always had trouble drawing a crowd. I don't let it bug me. We just try to play as many gigs as we can.

OPWZ: Have you done much touring? What were your impressions of traveling around the country and playing in strange places?

PC: I haven't done a lot of touring. We try to play out-of-town gigs whenever possible. MOTO did tour with the Icelandic band Bless in 1990. That was fun - not very profitable, but fun. I always enjoy traveling and playing gigs, wherever, I'd love to be able to play for a living and not have a day job. That'd be the best. I don't even mind that much when the gig stinks and we open for an Elvis impersonator, or we play at a victory party for a losing candidate. These gigs have actually happened. But we recently played a couple of very good gigs at a grocery store in Milwaukee. That was fun.

OPWZ: MOTO started as a full band, then it was you for a few years, then until recently you had Beck Dudley on drums. What happened to Beck? Is a band a pain in the ass to keep going?

PC: Beck got a Master's degree in architecture at UIC, and she's also studies in Japan. She now lives in Seattle. Yes, a band can be a pain in the ass to keep going, but I just try to keep the band as small and maneuverable as possible. Right now I have my friend Dennis playing bass, and he knows about 100 of my songs. We mostly practice through my stereo with my drum machine. It's fun. It's best to keep it fun.

I also have a friend named Gary who plays drums (and has a car) and he's been playing drums at most of our recent gigs. Most of my songs are pretty much drum machine oriented, so he just keeps a straightforward rhythm (with some snappy fills) and he can play songs he doesn't even know. I just have to remember to look at him when it's time to end the song. It's good to be flexible.

I can't afford a practice space with drums, but it's just as well, because I don't like to practice very long at loud volumes. Save that for gigs. In fact I don't like to practice very much at all. Me and Dennis only practice for an hour or more, maybe learn new songs. The songs are really simple. In the past I've burned myself out by practicing a lot. I'd rather just pace myself.

OPWZ: Do you prefer being a one-man band?

PC: It's got its advantages. You don't have to split the money. I'd just pop in with my guitar, my drum machine, borrow an amp from one of the other bands and just go for it. You don't have to worry about whether the other band members know the song or not.

Nowadays I enjoy playing with another musician or two. Bigger sound, plus I get to play some guitar solos. Fun.

OPWZ: I associate you with the punk scene, but a good # of your songs are 70s bubblegum pop, white man blues, and coffeehouse open-mike folk. Do you consider yourself part of the punk scene? Do punks consider you part of the scene?

PC: White man blues? I'm not sure about considering myself part of the punk scene. I've always played at punk gigs early on because it was the only access we had. I don't consider my stuff to be "punk", mainly because "punk" nowadays is pretty dogmatic and restricting. But I do think that my stuff is truer to the punk spirit than most "punk" because I do what I want to satisfy myself, instead of adhering to what "the scene" might expect of you. I remember when punk gigs were fun, and now (more often than not) they're not much fun. Mostly joyless. I don't know if punks consider us part of the scene or not. Some do, but most don't even know who we are. Oh well.

OPWZ: Who are your influences?

PC: Lots of people have influenced my stuff, but mostly AM radio from when I was a kid, then there's the Beatles, Ramones, Velvet Underground, Slade, Ted Nugent, Bikini Kill, Stones, lots of soul music, Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks, New Orleans R&B, Kinks, Who, Zappa, Fugs, Cheap Trick, MC5, Stooges, AC/DC, old crazy 50s rock'n'roll, Half Japanese, country, folk, disco, all kinds of jazz, new wave, no wave, heavy metal, Bee Gees, the Move, ELO, Queen, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Wings, Captain Beefheart, Gordon Lightfoot,Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Janis Ian, Joan Jett, etc. I've got a pretty big record collection. Pretty much everybody, even people whose stuff I hate.

Not to mention all the books, magazine articles, graffiti and other stuff I've read, or anything I've seen and heard on TV or the radio, or video. Stuff people say that I overhear. Stars in the sky at night, the moon. I guess I'm pretty much influenced by everything in the universe, one way or another

OPWZ: What kinds of dances should people do at your shows? The shag/twist/pony/pogo?

PC: The Shag? Boy, are you old (laughs). I'd rather people do whatever dances come naturally to them as long as they don't hurt anybody. Just remember to buy stuff from me when the show is over.

OPWZ: Your recordings are quite "lo-fi", as in low-fidelity. Is this by design or circumstance?

PC: Both. Unless a label gives me money, I can't afford to go to a "real" studio, and I'd just as soon not anyway. Why blow all that money when you can just do it at home on a four-track? It's just as good, as far as I'm concerned. I don't try to sound lo-fi, but I'm not going to be all fussy about EQ and stuff like that. I think my stuff sounds good.

OPWZ: It sounds like you record a lot of stuff in your bedroom. What do you record on and what kind of post-production can you do at home?

PC: I record on a Tascam Porta Three 4-track recorder. I usually put down the drum machine and bass guitar down on one track, then I do two rhythm guitar tracks with backup vocals (if needed), and then I mix it down to a cassette player, turning up the guitar solo when that comes along.

I used to use a Tascam Porta One 4-track that could bounce down tracks in the machine, but now it's 12 years old and keeps breaking. So I use it as a mixer for practice. I can't bounce tracks with the Porta Three, so I've got to sing while I play, etc. Actually I prefer doing it this way. I think I sing better when I'm playing.

OPWZ: Have you given a pet name to your drum machine?

PC: Yes. "Dr. Mac".

OPWZ: When you play a punk gig, do you cater the song list to the crowd?

PC: Yes. I make sure we play as many gooey love songs as possible. If there's skinheads in the crowd, I make sure that we do as many soul ballads as possible. It depends on what I think they deserve.

OPWZ: Your most recent tapes have been packed with thrashers. Selling out to the punks or is this just part of a natural progression?

PC: Thrashers come pretty naturally, as long as I've got a melody. I've always had a lot of straightforward-type stuff. I don't really thrash much. I usually just strum. It's just that I usually play with lots of fuzz. Fuzz on the bass, too. Monster sound.

Selling out to the punks? I wish. Nobody's buying.

OPWZ: How often have you ever been able to record in a real studio?

PC: Every now and then. But I don't like it. I'm just not comfortable with the way things are done in studios. I almost never feel like I've done my best. I prefer recording at home, then bringing it to a studio to mix. Actually I have a friend with a DAT machine I can mix it on. It's quicker, cheaper, and I like it better.

OPWZ: If you had access to studio musicians and background singers, would you do anything differently?

PC: I probably would. I wouldn't play guitar and I'd just sing. I'd show them what to play and sing. I wouldn't do rock'n'roll, though. I'd probably do a Joni Mitchell-type thing, only more like me.

Then again, maybe I would do a really loud nasty rock'n'roll thing. I don't know. Something in between.

OPWZ: I'll listen to a MOTO tape and go "Wow, he should sell this song to _________. They'd make it into a big hit". Have you ever tried to sell your songs to other bands? Who would you like to see singing your material?

PC: No, I've never tried to sell my material to other artists. Some bands have covered my songs, but not on vinyl or CD. usually just live, or on cassette. I sometimes wonder what it'd be like if someone covered my stuff on a big major label album. I'd probably be more interested in the money I'd get. But yes, I'd like to have Gordon Lightfoot or Shellac record one of my songs. That'd be great.

OPWZ: I own 12 MOTO singles, mostly on different labels. How do you and the labels find each other, and how has that worked out for you?

PC: Usually I get a letter from someone with a small label who's interested in putting out a MOTO single. Sometimes they offer money to record with, sometimes not. If they do offer money they generally want it recorded in a studio, so I'll go to a studio and do it there. If they don't offer money, I'll do it at home and mix it on my friend Rick's DAT. I'll generally do the artwork myself. I'll just look around at old pictures or drawings and put something together that way.

Beck Dudley used to do all the artwork. She knew how to do all that graphics stuff better than I did, so I'd just suggest something and she'd go to it. Sometimes she came back with the cover idea. I always liked the way her artwork looked, and I'll probably ask her to do stuff in the future.

I like my artwork, too. It's very me.

OPWZ: Is there more money to be made in CDs or 7"s?

PC: CD's, of course. You can cram more music on them. You can charge more for them. 7"s are only bought by collectors, completists, oddballs, people like me and you and the people reading this.

OPWZ: Songs like "The Chicks Can Tell, "It Tastes Just Like A Milkshake", and What House Does The Whore Live In" are pretty darn sexist. Is this a persona of yours or do you really see yourself as an early 70s power stud?

PC: Those songs aren't sexist. They're fun. If people find them sexist they don't have to listen to them. I think those are some of my best songs. My idea of sexist music is the chorus of Dylan's "Just Like A Woman", you know, "she breaks just like a little girl". Yuck. Jackson Browne's "Somebody's Baby". Or worse yet, these alternative guys who write these kind of "I understand you, sister"-type fluff.

I grew up with four sisters who used to talk about guy's asses and stuff like that. I know how women talk about men. My stuff (music) is pretty tame compared to that. So, no, I don't see myself as an early 70s power stud. More of a late 90s power stud who makes up neat songs for the new millennium. How's that?

OPWZ: You've been doing this since 1981. How many generations of fans have you seen come and go, and how have they changed over the years?

PC: Lots of people come and go. Some people hang around for a while and drop out to "grow up" or something, some get jaded, some hang around for years. It's hard for me to say because I've never really considered myself part of "the scene" or whatever. I go in and out from time to time.

I think that people who are younger than me tend to be a lot more jaded than I am. I try to stop myself whenever I feel myself assume a "been there, done that" attitude. I hate it when I'm enthusiastic about something and someone decides to rain on my parade just to show how cool they are. I'm not impressed.

Now that I think about it, things haven't changed much at all.

OPWZ: What day jobs have you had over the years, and is it possible to make a living from music?

PC: I've mostly had mail clerk, copy clerk, and office messenger jobs. I really don't want that kind of work anymore, but I may have to for the time being. In the meantime I've been trying to scam gigs for extra money.

Yes, it's possible to make a living from music. I understand a lot of people do it. It's just that I haven't been able to do it. I have no idea how I can book a tour without losing tons of money on long-distance phone calls, etc. I'd love to earn a living playing music, but you've got to have some kind of a record deal or master's degree or something. I want to do it but I haven't been able to do it. If anyone can help me out or has a clue, contact me at MOTO, Box 578912, Chicago, IL 60657 USA.

OPWZ: It seems every other month you have another tape out with 15-20 songs on it. Do the songs just pop into your head or do you spend days on end just staring at your guitar?

PC:The songs mostly pop into my head. Sometimes I come up with a song from playing the guitar or whatever, but usually I'm on the toilet and the lightning bolt hits me. Then I try to flesh out the initial idea. This can take between a half hour to twenty years.

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