Sound Bites THEY DO EVERYTHING: After all, they are the Weird Lovemakers. And they rocked like no tomorrow despite a half-filled room at the Airport Lounge last Thursday, July 10. I enjoyed every grinding punk-rock second, and at the end of the evening realized I hadn't thought twice about the fact that across town The Verve Pipe was holding court with Tonic and K's Choice for hundreds of star-struck teenagers and drunk twenty-somethings.

Yeah, I was planning on attending the Big Event myself, and writing a little spiel for those of you who didn't manage to get tickets to the sold-out performance, but the A&R person for K's Choice dropped the ball. There were no tickets waiting, as I'd been promised there would be, and rather than hold up a line that wrapped around the building with my not-so-pressing concerns (these kids wanted IN and patience was at a minimum), I decided a phone call to The Cage might be a better course of action. Hindsight being 20/20, I suppose I should have made a huge stink on the premises, because the delightful young man who answered the phone refused to find the manager and then glibly informed me I had obviously talked to the wrong person at the label and was shit out of luck. So it goes sometimes.

I was, admittedly, mildly offended, but, hell-bent on seeing some fine music, I had an inkling of just where to go--and I wasn't a bit disappointed. Word on the street was the Lovemakers were sounding pretty damn good lately. Hell, I thought they sounded pretty damn good the first time I saw them, once upon a time.

So I dropped into that wonderful basement lounge at the Plaza Pub, 20 E. Pennington St., and after some highly apropos droning feedback, the Lovemakers opened their show with one of my favorite--albeit one of their most uncharacteristic--songs, the primarily instrumental "Hector's Lullaby."

If the idea was to ease the audience into their set, well, there's just no easing into the Weird Lovemakers. It's simply full-on, LOUD, classic punk rock, stylistically akin to the glory days of Black Flag, the Misfits, even the Toy Dolls--as opposed to the current insipid punk pop of wannabe young ones like Green Day or Rancid. The Lovemakers--Héctor Jaime, Greg Petix, Gerard Schumacher and Jason Willis--raced from one thrill to another, screaming every intimate detail that nice people only whisper about, and tickling the prostates of many a male audience member with nimble renditions of several Electric Chump favorites, including an outstanding "Only Bad Witches Are Ugly." Right! The show was bold and shocking, and one of the tightest punk sets I've seen since Henry Rollins went solo.

After a particularly righteous song that he later informed me was titled "Devo," Petix confessed to the audience, "I feel like I just did a whippet." Even though I was simply holding down a bar stool and taking it all in, not sweating and screaming with punk fury, I could relate. Closing out the night with a stellar encore cover of the Police's "Truth Hurts Everyone," the Lovemakers restored my faith in karma. I set out to see a great show and--by accident or circumstance--did exactly that.

The Lovemakers are leaving this week, reportedly to expand their repertoire on a worldwide tour. They won't be back until the end of July, but we'll let you know when and where to welcome them home in the coming weeks.

HOT PICK: Susan Chase, known for her mighty efforts at the Airport Lounge, has organized a big 70th birthday bash for Norma Muniz this Sunday, July 20, at the The Yankee Doodle, 1929 E. Grant Road. For your pleasure--and with no cover charge--are the talents of the sublime Honeywagon, Cathy Rivers, Tim Gallagher, Crawdaddy-O and the inimitable Al Perry. The party starts at 8 p.m. Even Jeff Smith is talking about this one this week--Norma must have some real connections.

LAST NOTES: Some serious hell-raising and hard-rocking with several of the loudest bands in the Old Pueblo--F.U.C.T., Los Federales, Helldriver, Zero Tolerance Task Force and Grimy Offensive Drunks--takes off on Friday, July 18, at Skrappy's, 3710 N. Oracle Road. Get this: Cover charge is a mere $5 and all ages are welcome. Call 408-9644 for more information.

Should you rather raise a glass than raise Cain, head on down to one of the newest venues showcasing local music, the cavernous Nimbus Brewery, 3850 E. 44th St. This Friday, July 18, you'll hear the country ramblings of Caliche Con Carne, with special guest Timmy Wynette (No, it's not a typo, it's a drag...queen that is, singing all of your fave Tammy tunes). Cover is $2, and so are tasty pints of Nimbus' own brew. The brewery is definitely off the beaten path, so clip and save yourself a lot of hassle: Head south on Alvernon Way, staying in the left lane past 29th Street where Alvernon turns into Palo Verde. The first left south of the overpass is 44th Street. After two long blocks, the road dead-ends into a large, warehouse parking lot. Follow the sound of loud music to the nearest pint. Call 745-9175 for more information.

Swing with svelte ska as Hipster Daddy-O & the Hand Grenades and The Lucky Strikes swank on down Sunday, July 20, at the Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Cover is $4 at the door. Call 622-8848 for more information.

Should you be free Saturday, July 19, and you don't mind driving to Tempe, there's an all-ages show at 9 p.m. at the Electric Ballroom that's going to be spectacular: The other country half of Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, appears with special guests Varnaline (if you passed on their show at the Airport Lounge back in May, you missed a great band). People are still talking about how terrific Son Volt was when the band rocked the Rialto Theater last year, so this double-bill comes highly recommended. Tickets are $12.50 in advance and $15 on the day of the show. Call (602) 894-0707 for more information.

Lastly--as if you haven't heard about this one already--the H.O.R.D.E. festival rolls through Phoenix, with big name headliners Neil Young, Big Head Todd, Primus, Toad the Wet Sprocket and the Squirrel Nut Zippers, not to mention the sensational second-stage acts Morphine, Ben Folds Five, Leftover Salmon and Sky Cries Mary. As you must already know, the show starts at 4 p.m. Friday, July 18, at Blockbuster Desert Sky Pavilion. Tickets are $33.25 for reserved seating and $25.25 for general admission. Call (602) 784-4444 for ticket information. TW

--Lisa Weeks

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