Show reviews: King Tuff record release in-store at Amoeba; Hot Snakes, The Heartaches, and White Murder at Alex’s Bar

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It was a good omen when my daughter and I were walking to the market and saw a someone run across Glendale Boulevard from the coin-op car wash to the Laundromat. We followed him into the parking lot and when he exited we said, “King Tuff!” He responded, “Yeah! Didn’t I meet you at…”

This wasn’t the first time Eloise and I had stalked King Tuffy. We spotted him at the Art Book Fair at MOCA in the spring and asked for a photo then, too. Eloise is a huge fan of his self-titled Sub Pop debut and that was better than seeing Bigfoot. Back then, we asked him to play an all-ages show and thanks to the cosmic lattice of coincidence, we ran into him a day before his record release in-store at Amoeba. We told him we were stoked about the show and when Eloise was about to give a high five, Tuff gave her a hug and went back to wash the van in preparation for the band’s upcoming tour.

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I love taking Eloise to shows at Amoeba. There’s a lot of space so a little kid isn’t stuck looking at a bunch of grown-up asses and I’m not stuck carrying her the entire time. The shows start at 6:00 so it isn’t too late and they last about 30 minutes–just right for a young person’s attention span. The Amoeba crew is always super nice to Eloise and her cousins when they go, too, and usually give them stickers. Free earplugs, too, if we happen to forget their noise-cancelling headphones.

You know how a lot of parents go out buy kids music or baby versions of Beatles and Bob Marley songs? We never did that. The Ramones and AC/DC are pretty catchy, right? And we’ve taken Eloise and her cousins to many in-stores at Amoeba since they were small enough to be in carriers: Redd Kross, Shonen Knife, Dum Dum Girls, OFF!, Billy Bragg, Wayne Kramer, The Muffs… King Tuff was a great addition.

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The band always sounds more rockin’ live then on vinyl and last night’s show was no exception. They played about 8 or 9 songs–mostly off the brand-new, glow-in-the-dark album, which is full of swirls, hooks, and love. So good, and afterward we stood a short line to get our album signed. They drew pictures and were stoked to see Eloise and Mila, and you should definitely catch them on tour now.

There’s a chance the girls will grow up and like lame music. They’ll be informed by classmates instead of us and get into whatever happens to popular with their peers. And that would be fine. But the chances of the latter are smaller if she is exposed to DIY, indie, and punk that is played by down-to-earth people and has fun going out with Wendy and me.

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So I was okay with Eloise getting more than a little bummed when I went to the Hot Snakes show at Alex’s Bar without her last Thursday. But I explained that it would run too late for her to attend on a school night. And our first-grader doesn’t have a fake ID yet, anyway.

Alex’s Bar is way down in Long Beach but I will gladly drive down there for a show, especially when it’s an old-school punk band (CH3, The Crowd, Avengers, 7 Seconds…) or a RFTC-related group (I hear Speedo likes Joe Jost’s). It’s the opposite of trendy with the black light paintings on the wall, chains on the wallets, and hot rods in the parking lot. I think half the patrons have leopard-print strollers for their kids. Poseurs, the regulars are not.tuffy4

First up was White Murder, the pride of Long Beach. Vocalists Hanna and Marianne belt out double-fisted vocals punching their way out of timeless, out-of-control, riff-rocking punk. The energy and fun levels run at freakish levels, and there’s a sliver of danger in there, too.

Last time I saw them, they opened for T.S.O.L. and I was blown away by them that time, too. I was stoked to introduce myself to Marianne as Razorcake reader (the band’s record label is really a zine) and Perpetually Twelve contributor (they’re regulars in that zine), and then got to introduce her to Jack Grisham. How great are zines? How cool is life?

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The Heartaches were next, a band I didn’t know anything about. I thought the singer was going to poke someone’s eye out when he was waving half a mic stand around but never left the front because the songs were so catchy and good. They have buzz-saw hooks on the same level of Leatherface or Tiltwheel, but are darker and more garage rocking.

There’s a Belgian band out there with the same name and for all I know they’re great, too, but definitely check out and support the Heartbreaks from San Diego on Swami Records.

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Hot Snakes have been playing festivals across the country and we were lucky to see them at a great dive like Alex’s. As if the sold-out show wasn’t hot and crowded enough, both drummers showed up to contribute to the set, which didn’t end until well after 12:30. Rick Fork seemed to be ready to cut the set short because the conditions were so unsavory but the band kept coming back for encores.

We knew it we were in for a heavy night when one of The Heartaches (El Mano de Diablo?) perfectly lobbed a can of beer onto the back of Gar Wood’s head as he was setting up. In return, Wood came back with a bottle and crushed it over the Heartaches’ member’s hat!

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But the show went on and it was great. There’s nothing like the escalating riffs of Rick Fork and John Reis held down by Gar and tag-team drumming of Mario and Jason bringing the TNT and hammers, respectively. And with friends in the crowd from as far as San Diego and Santa Cruz, it was kind of like an epilogue to the Drive Like Jehu reunion a few weeks ago.

Love the noisy, heavy, and arty but fun vibe that couldn’t have come from Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, or anywhere else. It’s all San Diego.

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It was so hot and sweaty and unhygienic, and my ears were ringing for days afterward but it was worth it. See you this weekend at the Descendents/OFF! show in Pomona followed by ALL at Los Globos…

And Eloise? She’s out of luck until Save Music in Chinatown 4 with the reunion of The Bicycle Thief (Bob Forrest and Josh Klinghoffer), Evil Hearted You (following up their debut at X’s Make the Music Go Bang! fest), and My Revenge (with Hector Penalosa from The Zeros and Baja Bugs). But that will be worth the wait and worth her while. It’s a benefit we’re throwing for her school after all!

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All pics by me. Click on them to enlarge.

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