Friday Night: Buzzcocks Beat It -- Eventually -- at Slim's
June 10, 2011
Better than: Beating your meat to pulp.
First off, there were way too many women for what purist old geezers up-and-down swear is orthodox for an old-skool punk show. Many of the early arrivals milling before the stage at Slim's on another bone-chilly Friday night were well turned out indeed -- lots of fishnets, décolletage, garish makeup. They were dangling on some sharpie's arm or gamboling freely to New York Dolls tunes on the PA. I'd seen the headliners twice and knew well this particular band attracts the fringe sexy element of a generally potato-faced genre. X fans occupy a similarly stylish niche oft-envied by the more troglodyte element, and news the great L.A. punks were slated to appear on June 15 at Great American Music Hall was greeted with delight.
Images opened, giving the punters up front a furnace face-blast of jejune maximum punk 'n' roll. At once, some spike-haired kid wearing a face like a burnt-out bulb began to slowly swing his arms like a prideful ape and do a strutting mosh-stagger through the crowd stageside. It looked like a rejected grant application at the Ministry of Silly Walks and some bore it badly, wagging fingers and scowling. The sophisticated thrashers from south L.A. County's punk rock industrial complex have shouldered the job of opening for the Buzzcocks before, which imparted a certain brio at working with mouthy idiots in the crowd. "You suck!" someone yelled. "Thanks, dood," shot the response, as guitarist Nick Fashion followed up with "This song's called "Lost in the Crowd.' Like you guys."
The opening act shut down and all dug in for a long wait.
There was much spooning between attached couples and shy flirtation otherwise. Ten
minutes passed into twenty, which begat forty, which dragged on to sixty in the
fullness of slow-crawling time. The place went from merely crowded to
uncomfortably packed to clothed-steambath-orgy close before a general
caterwauling went up for the headliners. Unfriendly cries of "Suck!"
"BOOOOOO-rinnng!," and "Play somethin', man!" purpled the steamy air, along with
bitterer oaths, some sworn on behalf of my own sore ankles.
Lights winked out and The Buzzcocks strode onstage in a welter of feedback. This band served the 1977 Britpunk invasion by being both universally copied and seldom acknowledged. Now its members are lauded back in Blighty for saving Britrock from a fate worse than Joan Armatrading, but to a certain wedge of stateside fandom, remain the godfathers of the whole movement. Only Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle remain from the classic 1976 lineup, and both are instantly recognizable as the aptor-eyed old parties with youthfully lithe voices. These fiftyish fellows do meticulous justice to a catalog heavy with testosterone teen yawlps like "Noise Annoys" and "I Don't Mind," retaining an uncommon air of dandified authority for all their senior VP looks and bearing. They maintained it until the set crashed to an end after the third encore, and said they'd be back next year.
One drink maximum: The house special was Pink Lemonade, which my photographer at first deemed "about what you'd expect Absolut Citroen, sweet-and-sour mix, and a splash of cranberry to taste," which she later amended to "Surprisingly strong for a girlie drink."
I Don't Mind
Get on Your Own
Whatever Happened To..?
Why She's a Girl from the Chainstore
Sick City Sometimes
Moving Away from the Pulsebeat
Love You More
What Do I Get?
Harmony in My Head
Ever Fallen in Love