The Teeth, Lemon Drop Gang

Che's Lounge, Saturday, July 7

When choosing a drinking and live-music destination, you pretty much know what kind of crowd you'll see. There's one bar downtown that is the exception: Che's Lounge on Fourth Avenue.

The jukebox at Che's could be blaring Iron Maiden, Johnny Cash, The Smiths or The Clash; you'd be surprised at which greaser, punk or hipster picked which tune before ordering stiff $2 whiskey and cokes, $2 gin and tonics or a buck-fifty PBR with not much more than a nod to a knowing bartender.

The arty, hip, no-nonsense Che's normally squeezes in local bands near the entrance on Saturdays, creating a house-party atmosphere, but last weekend, Che's graced Tucson with a free performance by Philadelphia's up-and-coming blogger darlings The Teeth.

Tucson's Lemon Drop Gang opened with a rowdy set, paying homage to Joe Meek- and Phil Spector-produced '60s girl bands. Writhing lead singer Steph Dickson (aka PineApple Davis) gave a bratty Bikini Kill take on originals like "Johnny Is a Jerk" and a cover of the Shangri-Las' "Remember (Walking in the Sand)." Convulsive lead guitarist Bradford Trojan (aka LemonMan) defied gravity with a pair of vintage canvas slip-ons and an all-white combo, resembling an acid-popping version of '60s tennis star John Newcombe, while local drumming icon Tasha Bundy was tucked in a corner, keeping everyone in line.

During a lengthy intermission, I spied the different cliques present, viewing scenester girls and boys in newsboy hats and scarves (in July?!?); confused prom queens bathroom-searching; cell phones cradled in heavy-metal cleavage; shockingly large flesh-tunnel earrings on a tattooed punk couple; and public-shy local music writers chatting up dozens of members of popular Tucson bands.

Finally, The Teeth came out swinging, treating the crowd to tracks off their new release, You're My Lover Now, such as the Beatlesque circus-swirl of "Ball of the Dead Rat," the Kinks-meets-Libertines cockney-pop tune "The Trumpets Blared" and the harmonies of twin brothers Peter and Aaron MoDavis on the CD's title track. As expected, older songs, like the bouncy, saccharine-laced "I Love You," and the Bowie-like indie-glam anthem "So Long," both off 2005's Carry the Wood, received the biggest cheers.

Despite the heat and humidity, the crowd was dancing right up to the finale--a cover of Jerry Lee Lewis' "High School Confidential." Unlike high school, the different cliques got along just fine on Saturday--$2 drinks will do that.

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