Positively State St: Happily Running Amok Downtown

Originally from the Santa Barbara Independent. Highlights from a fabulous rock & roll fortnight.

ROCK MUSIC AND MELANOMA: I’ve had an exciting rock and roll two weeks. Following a superb Frank Black show and an even better Tom Petty concert (on Bob Dylan’s birthday!), my Mojo Wire compatriots and I had a blast this past Sunday, finishing up our new mini-album, You’re On Your Own, and playing as part of a pro-choice Reproductive Freedom rally in Isla Vista’s Anisq’ Oyo park. The event’s bill read like name-checks of every column I’ve written this year: Buttcheek Doofus still gleefully defied categorization while leaping from openers (at the previous Friday’s excellent Chick Rock Bonanza II at the Edge) to headliners in two days. Gravity Willing, perhaps suffering attrition from the all-day Saturday UCSB Extravaganza concert, showed up as a duo but still riveting, as if none the worse for wear. Terrific singer/songwriters Kirsten Candy, Thais Albert, and L.A.’s Jenni Alpert provided some mellow counterpoints between rock bands. Rounding out the lineup were melodic rockers The Bang, returning to I.V. from Ventura to reprise their unique Anglophile pastiche.

Highlights from this fabulous fortnight included Frank Black (pictured above with backers the Catholics) nonchalantly ripping into a bevy of Pixies tunes (perversely with ex-drummer David Lovering in the wings selling merchandise) to a semi-appreciative (“isn’t this the song from Fight Club?”) crowd at the Edge. Tom Petty, looking for all the world like some knackered Don Quixote, delivered a fairly comprehensive set, nicely augmenting opener Steve Earle’s country rock. Chick Rock II went off well as expected, emceed by KJEE’s Dakota, and marred only by the apparent desire of lead singer Heather Grody of Gush to remind all of us up here how provincial we are. But there is more to come—bassist Ben Pringle from The Mades was already promising a Chick Rock III halfway through his band’s powerful set.

Jumping into all this after five years in the wilderness is quite the head-spinner for us Mojos, but you haven’t seen the last of us. We thrashed through six songs of our own at Sunday’s time-crunched rally (with so many acts, is there any other kind?) and have the sunburns to prove it. Rock music and melanoma—oh, the humanity.

Ah, you say, but all this is in the past. Indeed—notable upcoming shows include Jennifer Terran tonight at SOhO, accompanied by fellow singer/songwriters Kate Bennett and Caroline Aiken. The Stiff Pickle Orchestra continues its run at the James Joyce on June 12, but not before stopping in two days before at Old King’s Road across the street. Hard rockers Nogahyde and Les Benson turn up at the Edge tomorrow night, and hey, here’s a wild one for you—the Dickies grace the stage at Kennedy’s tomorrow night, touring behind their latest release, All This and Puppet Stew. Punk, punk, punk!

Come to think of it, those punk (and quasi-punk) bands just don’t quit, do they? Local boys Idiot Savant, Sick Shift (up in Petaluma this weekend), House Cup (recently invading Sharkeez to toss that place on its ear), Slutmagnet (at the Madhouse recently with Sick Shift), and those ubiquitous Titsofrenix (with a one-two at Kennedy’s and Extravaganza last weekend), are happily running amok downtown these days. All the romping through I.V. and the Living Room for the last six months leads to two questions: Journeyman punk? At such a young age?

Oh, and let’s not forget—paternal princes of pop Paul Simon and Brian Wilson are set to bathe the Bowl in their lush and harmonic baby-boomer-ific sounds on Friday, June 15. Guilty pleasures rarely come this aurally pleasing, especially after such storied careers. It should be just what I need after the annual Isla Vista apartment move. Enjoy.