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FJP / Straight to Video / the Champs / Trans Am, Spaceland, Los Angeles, 4/09/98

FJP - I arrived toward the end of these guys' set, for the part where they were singing in really high voices about how they like to go to Magic Mountain so they could hang out with all the teenage girls. Evidently, they were really cool since everyone was just kind of standing around and nodding to their tunes, but I thought they were garbage - funny, but pretty awful. The only redeeming moment came in their last song, when suddenly, it looked like the guitarist was being attacked by his instrument, and he had to defend himself by tearing out the strings and hurling it at the floor a few times. And if *that* were the crowning moment, you know what the rest was like.

Straight to Video - If you're going to open yourself up to seemingly inevitable bad karma by choosing a crummy name, I think you'd pretty much better be the best thing since toasted walnuts. Unfortunately, though these guys - (Bob Fay's new band now since he left Sebadoh) - had just only about enough interesting going on to get a single walnut just shy of lukewarm. If you're trying to decide between re-alphabetizing the phone book and seeing them, forget 'em both and just go take a nap.

The Champs - Have you ever had one of those moments when you were listening to some great instrumental thrash metal, and you thought 'Hey, this sounds like the Melvins', turned around, and found King Buzzo, the *huge*-haired lead singer of the Melvins standing right behind you? Well, neither had I until tonight. Anyhow the fact that he turned out to see them was high praise of their mastery of the subtler elements of the metal genre - basically, they were very tight and very loud. Folks up in SF will probably have the best shot at seeing them in the future - apparently, they're broke and may not be touring much more in the near term.

Trans Am - You know what? It's kind of startling when an instrumental band starts singing. Or let's just say I was a little startled. At least the strapping young lads of Trans Am made it easy for us unprepared folks, by heavily distorting the microphone so the words came out in a wash of Kraftwerkian electronics. Trans Am's driving wordless masterpieces have always run the distance between the electronic and the purely electric, sounding at one moment like the soundtrack to a video game and the next like some kind of unforgiving guitar-fueled combustion engine. But the one thing that never wavers in any of their journeys is the churning, all-consuming beat, whether from the precise flailing of the drummer or the exacting thump of their plentiful keyboard arsenal. So all that, and I managed to leave unfulfilled. Why, you may ask? Because no one was dancing. What more could you have wanted? Ah well, perhaps everyone was trying to refrain from pouncing on this guy in the front row, whom I will affectionately call "Loon Boy" was making this horrendous "KOOOO KOOOO" noise between songs. You know, I'm glad he was having such a dandy time, but he could have just saved his mating calls for the game preserve so the rest of us could have started jumping.

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