Insanity vs. Rock: Everybody Wins! Amoebapalooza Hollywood 2010!!!

Posted by Amoebite, October 1, 2010 07:10pm | Post a Comment
words by Daniel Tures
photos by Pia Alvendia

As it does every Autumn, the peculiar form of mental instability known as Amoebapalooza descended again upon the employees of Hollywood’s finest record emporium! Once again, the results splattered out upon the King King stage in glorious 3-D scream-o-rama for the delight/bafflement of drunken spectators! Did you have to be there? Yes, you did. Will reading this chronicle and perusing these photos do? For now, it must and shall.

Amoebites are, as you may know, an incorrigible, shameless breed of rockers, and they love nothing better than for their employers to enable this addiction by engaging the King King for the night of musical mayhem known as Amoebapalooza. On this night, Amoebites may strut the stage, tread the boards and wail out their rock & roll demons, which often take the form of a bunch of crazy tribute bands. Every year there is eye-popping rock insanity onstage, wailing guitars, felonious wigs, Goodwill glamour and crazy silver stuff taped all over one’s jeans. Was this year any different? A bit more rockalyzing, a bit more crazy, but in essence, about the same as hanging out with a bunch of Amoebites any night of the week, plus a lot more Manic Panic hair dye and big amps! Did I remember every little thing? No, my own vodka intake did not allow that, so if I leave anybody out, forgive me, and let me just say now that it was all completely awesome. And you’re probably in the pics!

The whole mad affair was kicked off with the tuff rock sound of the Cigarette Bums, helmed by Amoeba’s own Steven Carrera but dominated by the wild sax stylings of whoever that guy was.  Little did he know that he was lighting the match that would send the whole Amoebapalooza shithouse up in flames over the next few hours!

Those bums were followed by the flying fingers and Fahey-esque pickin’ of Amoeba’s own acoustic guitar goddess, Lauren Landes. She caused jaws to drop and feet to shuffle with her unbelievable technique and melodic explorations. She made it look easy but it sounded like three hot flamenco players on mescaline. Lauren gives lessons, too, if you wanna learn from one who knows!

This awesome display was followed up by the anthemic power-pop of one Small Star, paying fine tribute, of course, to the pioneering Big Star of Alex Chilton and Chris Bell. Those Big Star tunes are beloved by just about every Amoebite and no easy thing to pull off, but the Small Star had the magic and rocked it out in just the right way. I was particularly impressed with those soaring vocal harmonies! Amoeba soundman Blue played the Andy Hummel bass with much soul and savoir faire, and Pat Hoed crooned like a Memphis angel. I think that’s the only Big Star tribute I’ve ever seen, and I can’t imagine anyone pulling it off better!

By then we were all ready for a blast of crazy punk freakosity, which fortunately hit the stage with no delay! The One rocked out three classic scorchers from SF punk pioneers The Avengers, and Tuna channeled the legendary Penelope Houston like it was 1979! This young punk charmer was backed by the muscular riffs and pounding of Kris Byerly on drums and Amoebapalooza organizer/sound guru Kim Pryor on guitar. Kim practically invented those riffs, or wait no, was raised on those riffs, but either way, she sizzled ‘em out like nobody’s biz! Tall Paul Losada conquered all with that implacable bass too. Let’s just say the crowd re-learned how to pogo. I think these guys are gonna turn into a real band, so keep your eyes out for a new platinum blonde punk siren hopping all over a stage near you!

Right around now our hostess Annie Hanley decided to take performing matters into her own hands and stormed the stage in Goodwill wedding dress and lace gloves as Boy Toy era Madonna! She pranced around and belted out “Like A Virgin” to a frenzied, adoring crowd of ‘80s pop enthusiasts. I think nowadays folks think of Madonna as sort of “classy” or something, but growing up in the ‘80s, I always thought she was delightfully gutter-y and thrift-store looking and this performance really captured the glam/trash Madonna of her classic years! I say let’s gong this Lady Gaga and give Lady Annie a chance!

The teasing tantalization was followed somewhere in there by a nutso comedy video by our own Jason Boggs... I couldn’t really follow it, but it seemed like he was on a couch getting blasted into outer space or otherdimensional realms while he screamed nonsense back and forth to a psychedelic muppet leaning over his shoulder. There may have been more to the plot but I think most folks in my vicinity enjoyed it on precisely that level!

amoebapalooza 2010

Our next visitation was long awaited... and preceded by an even longer sound catastrophe that had Kim and the King King sound people rewiring the entire stage. But oh, was it worth the wait when the Space Oddity himself descended for a visit! With Kim in the role of Mick Ronson, supported by her alter ego Miguel, Mike on bass in the Trevor Bolder role, and Christy Greenwood dramatically pounding the skins as Woody Woodmansey, the Leper Messiahs set the stage... for Billy Calhoun to teleport into the spotlight as Ziggy Stardust! Replete with sonic orange rocker mullet, dayglo druid face paint, platform sparkle boots and A-line dress over a fishnet top, Ziggy Calhoun strode onstage and belted out a medley of Spiders From Mars-era classics with such authenticity and stage presence that it practically melted the crowd. He had mastered Bowie’s trademark creepy heroin zombie stare and trained it relentlessly on the crowd while vogueing every tune like a messianic mime! We were in the presence of greatness, no doubt. Definitely one of the all-time best Amoebapalooza performances ever! We all vote that Billy continue this glamtastic aspect of his showbiz career by any means necessary!

Who can follow Bowie? Surely no one... unless you mean Creampuff Casper Milquetoast, of course. Joey Jenkins mounted the stage in classic Emmett Kelly clown makeup and took us directly to that Tom Waits / David Lynch / Tiny Tim dreamland that only he truly inhabits. “I have to go to the bathroom,” he began by announcing, but that bladder pressure became his artistic ally, launching him to new heights of Weimar clown cabaret insanity. His mini-opera told us of strange and wondrous things, then wiped our memories clean as he burrowed back into his wormhole of old-tymey weirdness. Let no one speak of wonder until he has tasted the milquetoast of Casper Creampuff!

At this point Ray Rivera took over as host, and rocked the mic in hat, shades and wardrobe of full-on Run-DMC ghetto elegance. He blasted the crowd with exhortations and dirty jokes until they were forced to join him or surrender! That one dirty joke was pretty good, actually...

Next up was some full metal jacket bar-fight rocknroll from Wishing Well, fronted by the inimitable Sam Rodriguez on vox and axe, supported by the heavy rhythm section of Pat, Anthony and Jaanus on drums. Taking no quarter, they wailed out heavy classics from Free and Zeppelin, with serious guitar solos and smoke machine ambiance. All those Amoebites talk rock and roll all day long; it’s nice to see a couple of ‘em get up and actually play some! Heavy stuff, bro-dads.

As with every Amoebapalooza stage transition, the next one was another 180... when the YMCGays stormed the stage! It was a rainbow nation of gays, all pumping serious iron and sporting sexy headdresses and rockin’ flannel work shirts and marching to beat the band. With Jesse Robledo rousing the rabble, they attacked a medley of Village People classics and wrestled each and every one to the mat! I was especially floored by Yutaro’s ultra-manly “In the Navy,” complete with militaristic sneer. Take that, “don’t ask don’t tell”! Kim was fetching in construction gear, short shorts and light-up mining helmet, Tuna rocked a cowboy hat and wicked handlebar moustache, Andrew Flores sassed up that native American style and Billy cameo’d as some kind of sexy policeman or sheriff or something. It’s fun to stay with those YMCGays!

This was followed by yet another surprise, but quite a pleasant one... who else but the Spiders From Mar Vista, recreating the Thin White Duke cocaine disco era of Bowie! With the rhythmic mastery of Marc Weinstein on drums, and the Carlos Alomar-esque guitar shanglalang of Jim Mills (Extra), the band was crackin’... but Greg Griffith took it over the top with his dead-on impression of the plastic soul Bowie of the Station To Station years! Resplendent in silk shirt, high-waisted white polyester pants and suspenders, Greg eerily crooned the hits in a mesmerizing wail that did the master proud. He even had a great joke: “It’s amazing how a man can age in a matter of minutes,” referencing Billy’s teenage superstar Bowie. But he proved that both the Ziggy era and the Berlin disco era were equally creative periods for Man Who Sold the World!

And who took the Bowie sound into the ‘80s charts with more of a vengeance than Duran Duran? Yes, the Fab Five themselves finally hit the stage at one in the morning to satisfy the sweet tooth of all those new romantics out there just dying for a fix! Oh, those adorable lads... Joel Black pounded the toms as Roger Taylor and Rodney Ford blazed away on the Arp as Nick Rhodes, while John Taylor funked the bass and Andy Taylor shrieked out the riffs. ‘80s hair, pirate shirts and leather pants oscillated wildly onstage as the band tore into "Girls On Film." Did ‘80s ladies throw themselves at the stage? They did. Did the drummer demand a very specific cocktail? He did. Did Simon LeBon offer to service the lovely bartender backstage? Unnobly, but not out of character, he did. Audrey and Tuna drove the crowd wild, undulating in sexy red dresses and donning sexy wolf masks for “Hungry Like the Wolf,” stalking each other about the stage. Did they somehow get through every little part and bridge and breakdown of “Rio,” even with Simon LeBon’s voice degenerating into a raspy squawk? They did; they did, they did. For those of us whose clueless parents never took us to see Duran Duran when they were in their prime, this was a dream deferred, but a dream come true at last! Jason Moore even crashed the stage to celebrate his retirement from Amoeba at the moment that “Rio” came crashing to a close.  Moonlight Waterfalls, you were missed!

Bringing the show to an appropriately disturbing close was the Dumbheads, a gang of likely louts arrayed in Bermuda shorts, flowery shirts, floppy hats and deck shoes, who serenaded us with the decaying aroma of a choice medley of K-Earth oldies done wrong. Even with Jada groovin‘ on bass, the overpriced tourist vibe was unstoppable. It was all kinds of bad freedom rock, played drunk-in-the-Bahamas style, led by the Lebowski-esque moan of the moustachioed and soul-patched Dante Aliano. Whenever they came to a fork in the road, they went back to the beginning: “Wild thing, I think I love you... But I wanna know for sure...” Was it like being locked in a North Korean interrogation chamber being waterboarded by the Troggs? I believe that it was. Still, classic rock must live on wherever it can find asylum, and if that be on a cruise ship, or the lounge of a Holiday Inn in Montana, or even the King King, then there let it live!

It was rock versus insanity, insanity versus rock: but ‘tis ever thus! May Amoebapalooza live on as long as either, and long may it stand as the ideal venue for the mortal kombat of these eternal adversaries! Amoebapalooza 2011 is already on the way... IT CALLS YOU!!!

Relevant Tags

Amoebapalooza (32), Amoeba Hollywood (872), The King King (1)