Sunday, August 26, 2007

Day One of Fuck Yeah! Fest IV (Echo Park, CA)

Most music nerds have some sort of rock fantasy lurking within them, however absurd said fantasies may be, and one of my small desires of the last couple years has been for east coast punk band the Explosion to cover the Hives. On record, the Explosion's slightly poppy in its punk style and can't really match the intensity of its (consistently brilliant) live show, but front man Matt Hock has a faux-cocky swagger that could nearly rival that of Howlin' Pelle, and the band as a whole is fueled by enough testosterone, speed and humor that it could certainly pull off such a feat.
But alas, this will remain a long term pipe dream, as the Explosion is coming to an end after approximately nine years together. The group put on its final west coast performance at the tail end of Saturday's Fuck Yeah! Fest date, somehow managing to top a reunion performance by the Fuse! and revealing that, yes, people do crowd surf in Echo Park. Hock reached over the barrier up front to share his mic and huggable arms with the crowd's front row, and skinny jeans-clad (guitarist) Chris Gonzalez shared himself with many a camera.

It seemed that only the most loyal fans had stayed for the end of the seven-hour concert to see the Explosion, given the number of people who knew every word to every song, not to mention that while most bands get the strongest response from their album's singles, songs like “Here I Am” received attention equal to the rest of the band's material. And so it was, the Explosion, ending on quite the high note, as well as prior to the release of an upcoming and final album. Release date thus far unknown.

Downey-based punk trio the Fuse! performed a one-time reunion set at the Echoplex just before the Boston band to take a bow of its own; the audience was a mish-mash of old fans and unfamiliar faces, and the Fuse! front man fed it a helping of anger directed at apathetic America. Were they not such a prime pairing for the night's headliner, the Fuse! may as well have headlined its own set in a separate venue, and to sum up dialogue throughout, the band's motto may as well have been, “This is the fuckin' USA?”

Other highlights of the night's earlier half included Entrance, whose female bass player churned out lines battling the smoothness and simplicity of Dave Alexander's work in the late '60s, and the rather math rock-ish Upsilon Acrux, whose incredibly young-looking drummer came down hard and whose Moog master...erm...rocked his Moog. Guitars were precisely tapped, and additionally young-looking new bassist Josh Quon appeared slightly nervous in the face.

Workaholic Greg Ashley stopped into the Rec Center to play a solo acoustic set on his classical guitar, and spent his time nervously hunched over when not nervously mumbling his dedications and song titles. But he always sits and hunches, even when performing with the Gris Gris, so such was to be expected; his set was pleasant and audience intimate, and his fingers revealed (for we ignorant non-musicians) how a note is bent. His set was mostly comprised of solo material, beginning with Painted Garden's album opener “Song from Limestone County,” including the also-recent “Sailing with Bobby,” and ending on “Apple Pie and Genocide” from 2003's Medicine Fuck Dream, during which his “da da dee/da da dumb” choruses were more aggressively sung than usual. Only one Gris Gris track was included, "Me Queda Um Bejou" off the self-titled Gris Gris album from 2004.

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