June 24 @ Cafe Coco
Thursday night, The Pink Spiders kicked off their summer tour at the Brat Pack hang-out Cafe Coco, where anything went from teenage catfights to car towing. Too bad there wasn't much time for music.
Why The Pink Spiders wanted to start their summer tour and vinyl release show at Cafe Coco was baffling. The cramped stage on the coffeehouse's back porch was inadequate: singers had to stand in front of the lights in the crowd where no one in the back could see them. The sound was horrible. Each band started their set off with screeching feedback, and vocals were hard to hear. The bar took up about a quarter of the floor spaceand it was closed. It was as if someone decided that morning, "Hey, let's put on a rock show tonight," then skipped town.
The show was billed to start at 7 p.m., but it was after 8 before Casio Casanova came onstage for his sound check. While the growing crowd waited for something to happen, the porch was noticeably quiet without background music. From evenings spent sipping coffee, we know Café Coco has a decent jukebox. Why wasn't it playing in the back room? Meanwhile, the room filled with wafer-thin teens dressed in '80s threads, who stood out more for their toddler-like whining than for their borrowed fashion statements. These training-bra yankers couldn't even manage a playfight: while goofing around one "accidentally" bitch-slapped the other, leading to a hilarious crisis resolution entirely in Valley Girl speak.
Once again, Casio Casanova struggled with technical difficulties through the beginning of his set before he tossed his iPod for a reliable Discman. Bad sound screwed up the guitar/pre-recorded music mix and drowned Casio's vocals. At least "they" (Casio refers to his one-man band as "we") showed concern: he often stepped into the crowd to hear what the mix sounded like. When his voice could be heard, his raspy, slurred vocals were impressive. Even so, the crowd seemed unimpressed: they hardly budged even when Casio played his usually popular covers of Daniel Johnston's "Casper the Friendly Ghost" and the Pixies' "Head On." It was a sad contrast to his energetic, untroubled show at the Red Rose two weeks ago. Perhaps Casio should heed his own declaration that "bubble machines and mechanical things don't fit together."
Next was Oliver's Army: four skinny guysin, what, were those girls' jeans?playing a mix of hard rock, funk, and screamo. With them, the Pretty in Pink crowd cleared out and a gang in black t-shirts and thick leather bracelets took their place hunched in front of the stage. The crowd launched into Oliver's set with them, screaming lyrics back to the three vocalists.
The guitarist was so Keith Richards rock-star that his mic hung from the lights, dangling in front of his face while he did a guitar-humping snake-hips act. It was hypnotic, all rightin the way you accidentally catch your dad playing air guitar to Journey and can't look away. Not to be left out, the drummer overexaggerated every thrash, raising his arms all the way up between beats, standing to reach the cymbals in his wee red shorts.
The crowd was just getting stoked when a roadie yelled that the band's van was about to be towed. The drummer and one guitarist rushed to the back door to rescue their vehicle, while the rest of the band made do with a sloppy impromptu jamcomplete with, oh yes, a tambourine. When the drummer returned, they played two more songs, and in a dramatic ending, they stripped off their t-shirts, ran into the crowd trying to rip the audiences' shirts off, and then leapt back onstage for a big finish.
By the time The Pink Spiders got onstage, it was nearly 10 p.m. Painted on the drum kit was "hot style," and with the band bathed in pink light the Pink Spiders evoked just that. They alternated spat-out punk vocals with shrill screaming, prompting much ecstatic reaction and "jazz hands" from the crowd. The boys sported skinny ties, lip rings, hip haircuts, and a lovable if slightly vulgar immaturity, as when they proclaimed they would "lick anyone's butthole for free water." Unlike the opening acts, the Spiders bantered and worked the crowd between songs.
Not even a third of the way through their set, though, a car alarm went off in the parking lot, prompting a Cafe Coco employee to run onstage and beg for someone to turn off the alarm. And then, with a warning about the neighbors complaining, the club told the Spiders to play one last quick song to end the night. The neighbors? At a punk rock show? At 10:15, the night of the band's own CD release party? Come on. Just when it was getting started it ended. Ironically enough, the Spiders' EP is called The Pink Spiders Are Taking Over! Just not at Cafe Coco.
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