Frequent showgoers have a Spidey sense when they're watching a live band on a busy night downtown: They either sense a better show has started, or know to stay put, thinking, "Oh yeah, this is the place to be." Last Saturday, I was assigned to cover a live show at Vaudeville.
Robyn Hitchcock was in town recording and treated us with yet another show. Instead of his usual solo acoustic/stand-up routine, Hitchcock was backed by three-quarters of the new R.E.M., under the Venus 3 alias. That's right: Peter-freaking-Buck. So I stopped by.
Buck's trademark jangly picking style was omnipresent, producing many goose bumps. After Hitchcock's career-spanning set, he dedicated cover songs to audience members, including his father-in-law (Dylan), his wife (the Beatles' "I've Got a Feeling") and Howe Gelb's daughters (his own "Adventure Rocket Ship") before launching into Pink Floyd's "See Emily Play" and blowing the roof off with a better-than-the-original version of the Byrds' "Eight Miles High."
After I schooled Gelb on how to make his daughter's MySpace private, my Spidey sense sent me off, and I walked in on The Cuntifiers at Vaudeville, who look and sound like a semi-reunion of Arizona punk legends The Weird Lovemakers. God only knows why this band hasn't had the same success. (Gee, I wonder if it's their offensive moniker?)
Oakland, Calif.'s Rock n Roll Adventure Kids are actually a duo who prove that two energetic musicians can "rustle up more action" than a full band. Taking a page from the Bob Log III playbook, RNRAK played distorted foot-stomping rave-ups, sampling psychobilly, cow-punk and stuff from '60s garage act The Monks--all at 78 RPM. Lead singer Marcos sounded like a meth-head pig auctioneer; "Panties in My Pocket" was a hilarious highlight.
Pop Gestapo, led by local intellectual sadist Mark Beef, followed with an amusing performance that seemed to make Johnny Thunders look professional. Spidey senses started tingling. Lagoon at Che's! Deludes at Plush!
On Fourth Avenue, instead of catching a band, I was chided for not being here or there. Hey, did you see two indie-rock pioneers (Hitchcock and Buck) simultaneously embracing their '60s heroes (Syd Barrett and Roger McGuinn) on the same stage tonight? Now that was the place to be.