Amoebapalooza Hollywood 2009!

Posted by Amoebite, September 15, 2009 07:39pm | Post a Comment
Every year the staff of Amoeba Music in Hollywood get together for a no-holds-barred musical cage match called Amoebapalooza...20 Amoeba bands get as crazy as possible onstage for 10 minutes each!

Brently Heilbronw crazy IS possible?

Very crazy was the answer this year...and/or very glamorous, creepy, rockin', shockin', wild, wonderful, and dancetastic! One of the most wonderful and insane Amoebapalooza lineups of all time took the stage at the King King on Sunday night and showed how it was done. Surely any unsuspecting patrons to walk in from Hollywood Boulevard must have thought they had stumbled onto the set of some kind of psychedelic rock opera written by Andrew Lloyd Webber's brain-damaged evil twin, and hopefully they stuck around to enjoy it with the rest of us.

As our lovable and pants-wettingly funny host Brently Heilbron put it, it's the last Amoebapalooza of the decade...soon we won't have the Oughts to kick around anymore, and it'll be the Teens! Taking this temporal warning to heart, the musical freBen Ricciaks of Amoeba made sure they sent the Oughts out with a kaboom. Have a drink with me and let the show begin...

The lights went down on the red velvet curtain, and the festivities began with a Jaco-Pastorious-on-PCP solo bass guitar odyssey from gangly wunderkind Ben Ricci, bravely kicking off this night of strangeitude. Is the bass meant to make sounds like that? Dunno. Ben's bass wizardry was closely followed by the hard-charging sounds of Thin Lizzy tribute band Emerald, with one Sam Rodriguez channeling the spirit of the late great Phil Lynott. Sorry if I'm leaving anything out...the next thing I remember was the always mind-blowing cabaret fantasia of Cream Puff, the one-man show of antique futurist foppington Joey Jenkins. There really is nothing like Mr. Joey JenkinsJenkins...jigging, chanting and prophesizing from the stage, in his knickers and mountaineering headgear, he makes you feel like you've wandered into one of David Lynch's weirder dreams. He ended by collapsing in a grand death scene, instantly growing a marvellous flower from his heart. Showbiz!

I think the next to ascend the stage were the mysteriously monickered duo Chain Letter Wig...'twas none other than Elicia McCoy and Scott Carlson, Elicia resplendent in a crushed velvet gown and a sash of taxidermied foxheads, Scott in Melvillean gray beard, sailor cap and shades. Whilst Scott intoned frantic sounds and riffs on his Moog and distorted bass, Elicia sang a flapper ode to a dead plastic baby (of course) and then belted out some long forgotten gems by Danielle Dax and Daisy Chainsaw (of course) in her commanding Siouxsiesque alto. A mesmerizing ritual!

By then we knew to expect the unexpected, but somehow nobody expected what came next...a nattily attired quintet of '60s-looking zombies in horrible greenface (but well-styled coiffure)Zombie Zombies took the stage and performed, yes, the hits of the Zombies. But with new lyrics focused on the culinary habits of real zombies (eating brains). The Zombie Zombies delivered the chiming, tuneful pop goods of "She's Not There (I Ate Her Brain)," "Tell Her No ('Cause Her Brains Belong to Me)," and "Time of the Season (For Eating Brains)." Jada made a wonderful undead Colin Blunstone, winsomely delivering the romantic lead vocals with which Dante and Matt Polley harmonized and groaned for brains on the choruses. It all ended in a freakout of staggering, growling and bloody teeth, as we howled for more!

I'm sure I'm leaving something out, but next up may have been Brooke Back FountainBrooke Back Fountain, the always hard-rocking combo led by Ms. Brooke herself. This year they appeared in capes and gave us a frighteningly exact recreation of Spinal Tap's classic "Stonehenge," with a real miniature triptych and a very athletic dancing dwarf! That dwarf just would not stop dancing around that triptych, beneath a haunted moon. They sent us out with a killer version of the Sweet's "Ballroom Blitz."

Next up was a danceathon blowout from Courtney Frystak's candy-colored tribute to Deee-Lite, Deee-Licious! There were so many '60s miniskirts, platform heels, E'd-out ravers and conga players onstage, it was practically a global village! Ms. Kier sang some sexy soul while the Dee-liciousdisco rhythm got everyone groovin'. Melissa Rivera made an amazing cameo as Crystal Waters, singing that "La dun dee, la dun dah" song... you know the one; it makes you feel like you've gone to 1992 and you're never coming back. Orion Meyer busted a couple quick verses on "Groove is in the Heart" as Q-Tip, and DJ Jun added real scratchin'! A very realistic evocation of the NYC dance scene of the late great '90s.

I think then we went back in time once again with Studio 154, four serious types in black who drilled out very realistic versions of some postpunk classics by Wire, Gang of Four, and Public ImRoxy Musicage Limited. They really nailed "Poptones" with an eerie, heavy pulse, courtesy of Marc Weinstein on drums, Rik Frystak on atonal riffs, and Greg Griffith on anti-noise generator. This set the stage for the glam explosion of Roxy Music impersonators For Your Pleasure, who spared no expense to recreate the romantic decadence of that trailblazing band. Brian Eno (Elicia) kicked things off with a pounding keyboard as the band tore into "Virginia Plain," "Do the Strand," and "Love is the Drug." Kim Pryor held down the bass (and just about everything else, as the night's organizer and motivating spirit), Dave Cunningham wailed out the Frippertronics, Caveman Kris Byerly let the muscles ripple, and Becca wailed on space sax. Bryan Ferry's pompadour stayed tall through 3 jacket changes, and the two sexy backup dancers (Tuna and Melody) exuded luxurious sleaze. For the grand finale they drove out in a long black limo, brandishing hearts and syringes. The crowd reacted to the frontman as any of us would have to the real Bryan Ferry, shrieking and attempting to tear off his shirt. Still elegance prevailed and clothes stayed mostly on. Love is the drug and I need to score!

What could follow this but We Will Fall (or We Will Fail, as Brently quite Lee Gordoninaccurately introduced them)...a visceral tribute to one of the greatest rock bands of all, the Stooges! Iggy Pop channeler Lee Gordon burst onstage shirtless in a sweaty blur of golden gloves and junkie attitude, fearsomely howling out the hits as Larry Schemel and Sean Ellwood blasted them out on guitar and bass. Saxwoman Becca of course returned to honk out the raw power free jazz. Crushing, screaming and flailing, this combo KO'd it with total energy and dedication that would have made the Psychedelic Stooges proud!

Rhymin' and Stealin' was next on the mic, mixing it up with hip-hop classics and freestyles. Orion OrionMeyer showed that just because a white boy is from Iowa, does NOT mean that he is not a rhymetastic MC with mad flow (coz he is). Somehow after this, indie-rock bad boy Jay Reatard got onstage and berated the sound man and told everyone to f*ck off, which seems to be something he likes to do...far be it from us to deny Jay his raison d'etre, so we let him make us his punching bag, yet again. Let the man rant!

The night pretty much climaxed with a one-two punch: the blue-collar heart and soul of Huey Lewis tribute band Heart & Soul, and the big-budget dancemania of Michael Huey LewisJackson apostles the Badd Dancers! Jason Moore showed us why he IS his generation's answer to the raspy soulful croon of bar-band legend Huey Lewis as he shamelessly belted out a medley of guilty pleasures like "If This Is It" and "The Heart of Rock & Roll" (is still beating). Backup honey Heidi duetted on the choruses and the News knocked it out of the park, skinny ties and all. After forgetting to be cool, the crowd went nuts and danced along. It IS hip to be square!

The BADD Dancers always deliver, and their performance was totally spectacular, with added emotional resonance from Michael Jackson's untimely passing just over a month ago. Tuna led the head-snapping choreography, perfectly executed by Jessy, Melody, Billy, and Gillian. Yutaro kicked things off in a gold cape with a mystical intonation from the King of Pop, and Asha moved and grooved, playing Michael's love interest during "The Way You Make Me Feel" to the wild screams of the crowd. Fedoras flew, feet flew, and my false teeth flew out of my head as I disco-danced in pale imitation of their super-synchronized routines. At the end, their giant light-up "BADD" sign was revealed and they capped a remarkable performance with an insane re-enactment of "Smooth Criminal," magical lean and all. Those kids can dance! Was Michael Jackson looking down from pop heaven and moonwalking in appreciation? You betcha.

Badd DancersBadd DancersBadd Dancers

More insanity followed...a mezzanine sci-fi metal quartet unleashed scary sounds and samples of babies contemplating cannibalism: the horrifying insanity of GooGoo GoreGore! I loved the giant metal Sophiahelmets and of course, the burning baby on the video monitor. Late in the evening, Lamour de Pierrott captivated the crowd with a spooky Weimar cabaret extravaganza: in harlequin whiteface and Victorian red satin undies, vampy songstress Sophia belted out unhinged versions of "Fever" and "I Put a Spell On You." Jamie Spidell added bump-and-grind percussion. Ms. Sophia has a spine-tingling declamatory croon to rival Grace Jones!

An ambient burning fog rolled in with Felix's hypnotic one-man set of synth moans, clangs and evil gong. And the night was truly buried deep with the closing hardcore slop of Flathead, an ugly oozing punk wound.

2010 is almost Fall a new decade of Amoebapalooza insanity shall be unleashed! See you then!

Felix Flathead Trevor

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Amoebapalooza (32), Amoeba Hollywood (867), Brently Heilbron (11), Zombies (19), Stooges (6), Huey Lewis (3), Michael Jackson (57)