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the Ziggens / Pulsars / Man or Astroman?, the Roxy, Los Angeles, 4/8/97

The Ziggens - I think they really should have been called "Mr. Noddy and the Good Humor Man" because their bassist seemed to have this problem with nodding his head all the time, and the lead singer looked like he had just popped off the back of an ice cream truck. They were kind of a blend of surf and rockabilly, with amusing lyrics which were not terribly memorable (which is why you are not getting any quotes). Don't get me wrong, they were a good opening band. If you happen to see the Ziggens sometime, I would recommend *not* standing in the front, because at the end of their set, the lead singer blew his nose on the crowd. Without a tissue. The last time I remember seeing that, it was a moment of trauma on the elementary school playground.

Pulsars - Before they even played their first note, someone in the back of the club managed to connect a smattering of wit and grace with a burst of "Pulsars suck!" Whoever would have guessed that was the voice of wisdom? The band consisted of a guitarist, a keyboardist (somewhere safely offstage), and a drummer who had headphones on, listening to THEIR OWN MUSIC so that he could keep time to a video projected on a large-screen TV in the center of the stage. This allowed the guitarist to keep up and sing lyrics in synch with a pair of lips on the TV. With all the spontaneity of a mass, their music was so entirely premeditated, it was almost criminal. To make matters worse, they evidently had not learned the essential, fundamental lesson of all music, that the lyrics "I adore my pet robot" should never, never be considered appropriate fodder for a song.

Man or Astroman? - After a full 15 minutes of setting up all manner of bizarre equipment and oscilloscopes on stage, they opened with re-make of Star Wars, starring a full cast of action figures and toys. Glorious, if a bit long - I was touched with nostalgia. The four intrepid adventurers then took the stage to the sounds of a Speak and Spell announcer - two normal looking guys in strange glasses, one fellow in a flight suit and crash helmet, and a guy wearing welding goggles and a plastic outfit. I think my favorite among the four was the flight suit fellow (Coco the Electronic Monkey Wizard) who played bass, as well as a couple of instruments he had glommed together out of computer keyboards, some electronic bits, and an Apple Powerbook. Unfortunately, amidst harried cries of "You can't rush science!", most of Coco's mad scientist gear broke, so he ended up taking up the bass most of the time, which was just fine because when they were all together, they played some really great fast, heavy surf with a bite. They also had no fear of admitting their mistakes ("Hey, you played the wrong bass line on that last one!" "That's because my set list is different from yours!") and bantering with the audience - "This one is dedicated to the guy who totaled his Mercedes this morning plowing into our trailer - it's called 'Uranus'". I think they were able to put on a superb, blazing set of tunes, even though Coco was forbidden by the management of the Roxy from setting himself on fire.

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