Dante versus Zombies, The Lovely Bad Things, Bolt from the Blue and Stay Cool Forever
Dante White Aliano from Dante versus Zombies mentioned to me that the drive out to Pomona felt like a jaunt through a farm town until they hit the Art Walk which then felt more like New York and while one would be hard pressed to actually mistake Second Street for some Manhattan enclave, Pomona during it's Art Walk is teaming full of people all charged up for a good time. The streets get blocked off at the Glasshouse and crowds gather for food, indie music, art and the occasional fist fight. All that and more happened on Saturday, the 14th. My mission was seeing Dante versus Zombies, The Lovely Bad Things, Bolt from the Blue and Stay Cool Forever at Aladdin Jr.
Stay Cool Forever are 3 kids from Pomona who looked so young I would wager a Heineken that I have t-shirts that are older. Equipped with keyboards, programmed rhythms, a guitar, effects and a drum or two they swirled up a dreamy synth pop stew that was part Nintendo soundtrack, part tropical pop, part experimental and all very infectious in a cotton candy sort of way. On one song the pitch bends and happy beat turned into a surreal dance where I imagined that our bones had disappeared and we all became rubbery. I was slapped back into reality when the vocals turned into yelps and what sounded like a dolphin laughing. I assure you, I was completely sober at the time. Another song that built on it's own synth sustains and layered vocals reminded me of London's dreamy Still Corners. The songs were short and seemed like they were still evolving but I enjoyed the exuberance, the youthful exuberance.
Raziel, Francisco and Enrique (Bolt from the Blue) play rock painted up with blues, funk and other head banging colors. BFTB stirred up sounds (in my mind) like Thin Lizzy, MC5, and even bands like Living Color. Raziel's puts his entire body into his guitar playing and his gritty vocals added bite to the songs served up with full bottom bass by Francisco and lively drum work courtesy of Enrique. These songs could of strayed into all too familiar rock terrain if not for the heavy infusion of funk and soul that dripped off the guitar lead bends and back beats. Amazingly, they rocked out James Brown's - "I feel Good." Afterward Raziel stating that James Brown must be rolling over in his grave. I beg to differ, I imagine Mr. Brown was doing the splits in praise.
*WARNING* WARNING* MOSH ZONE* If you think for one bloody moment that you can simply do the head bob or dance in your own little space a few rows back at a Lovely Bad Things show then you are sadly mistaken because while you are lost in their brazen garage / surf rock assault you will more than likely feel a bunch of bodies slam into you and nearly knock you on your ass. This would be the case tonight as the crowd swelled as they took the stage. TLBT's songs move from the frenetic of the mosh to dancing on the beach. "Icee Creeps" barrels over you with a double time beat and vocals that invite you to scream along only to shift into a break that is steeped in California surf culture with tom tom beats and heavy dirty guitar chords. "Kevin" is hyper and catchy with a bridge that got the crowd pogo-ing. "Old Ghost" churns like a locomotive and "Cult Life" is bitter sweetly upbeat. All the players shift instruments even taking turns behind the drum kit. Sonically, think Black Lipsish, Pixieish, but not. Lauren, Brayden, Tim and Camron sweat and move on stage and ask their audience to do the same. The music is so infectious that complying is not all that hard to do.
Dante from Dante versus Zombies moves his lanky frame with a grand fluidity like he is made of rubber instead of flesh and bones. I imagine if he was in a car crash and stone sober he would walk away as if he was drunk as hell. A veteran of countless bands and musical projects, Dante is the consummate entertainer who knows how to hold the audience in the palm of his hand. With his jet black hair, velveteen jacket and rock flamboyance he reminded me of a cross between Pelle Almqvist of the Hives, Mick Jagger, and (dare I say) Jim Carrey. The first thing he did was assign someone in the audience to be the safety captain during the show because, as he said, "We are a safety conscious band." Dante versus the Zombies pumps out songs full of jangly guitars and moving bass lines creating a sound that inhabits some space in between spaghetti westerns, sci-fi, and retro post punk and they also dress for the party. In fact, back up singer Laena was adorned in what appeared to be a hot pink burqa, her face covered for the entire show. Gabriel and Matt with their nearly matching hollow body Gibsons played off each other well along with bassist Jada and drummer Jeff. The songs, like Dante, have a flair for B- movie dramatics. "Branded by Nuns" swings wonderfully with western guitars like some Adam Ant song. "Oblivion" burns like a 50's leather jacketed tear jerker and "Bible Belt" has fantastic drum breaks and rings out like a Duran Duran song if Duran Duran was into spy caper music. Dante versus Zombies = solid music and cool theater. Fantastical.
- Adler Bloom