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Wise Monkey Orchestra / Clyde's Ride, Luna Park, Los Angeles, 5/21/98

Well, I finally managed to check out the fabulous Luna Park lounge and restaurant after three years - took me long enough, eh? Years ago a band of intrepid groove merchants made their way through the perilous land of West Hollywood to construct a reservoir, nay, a veritable temple of laid-back hipness in a wasteland of silliness. Well, OK, so there's just enough silliness to keep the people watching fun - I've come to the conclusion that vinyl pants are good in theory, as long as someone else is wearing them. Very tasty munchies. Thumbs up.

Wise Monkey Orchestra - I've always gotten a chuckle out of their name, but I didn't think I'd ever actually have an opportunity to go see them. Maybe this means I have to go check out Jesus Chrysler Supercar now, too. Anyhow, the band launched into a fine blast of jazzy goodness replete with trombone, sax, keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, and congas as played by a much-bedreadlocked chap. They could have kept it at that instrumental level and everything would have been just fine by me. But, no, they had to go and complicate things with this vocalist whose singing was pleasant enough, but unfortunately didn't jibe with the music, and also had this problem with making a weird noise at the end of her phrases. Imagine you're chewing some aluminum foil, and the only way to get that awful flavor out of your mouth was to go "uhhh-ohhh" with a wee tremolo. Well, you get the picture - truly unfortunate. Musical bits 1, vocal bits 0.

Clyde's Ride - I am proud to announce that "Richard's Moneyback Guarantee" program has now been officially extended to include San Diego's very own Clyde's Ride. If you go see them and you aren't enthralled with their music, I'll refund the cost of your ticket. The one logistical problem to testing the guarantee is that a number of the members are currently in grad school in San Diego, so they don't often stray far from home - dedication to their studies and all. Very admirable. But fabulous study habits aren't really the reason to go catch them live. The real reason is groove. Lots of it. The hugeness of the horns, the thickness of the funk, the highness of the occasional falsetto, the catchiness of the harmonies. You'll be ripped from your chair against your will and forced to groove to the beat. Don't underestimate the power of 'the Ride' in all its glory - one guy ended up dancing with a chair tonight, no - actually two chairs. It's possible he was just a big freak in his own right, but I will wager that the music had something to do with it. LA folks are in luck - they promised to come back sometime soon. I'll definitely be there - perhaps we can all band together and keep each other from dancing with chairs - there's strength in numbers.

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