Prima Donna, The Billy Bones, Motorcycle Boy, The Legendary Swagger: February 27, 2010 @ Key Club (Hollywood, CA) By Marcus Solomon

Apr 13, 2010

Kevin Preston, lead guitarist and riveting vocalist for Prima Donna, is already famous. It will just take a little more time before the rest of the world knows it. There is no denying this phenomenal young gun’s incredible talent, naturally dominating stage presence, and his strong, irresistible charisma that is pure buttery magic. Kevin was born with a guitar in his hands and he is destined to attain legendary status. His band, Prima Donna, is an adept five-piece powerhouse that successfully melds glam, punk, and classic rock riffs in such a kick-ass way that even the most ardent skeptic will acquiesce to the energetic and infectious sounds it creates. It’s true. It happened to me. Despite my staunch, old school punk rock preferences, I was taken in by this performance and have to admit Prima Donna rocks. The band was celebrating its triumphant return from Europe, having spent the past few months playing to sold-out auditoriums in support of Green Day just before departing again to support Berkeley’s biggest stars throughout Asia. (So that’s why I saw Mike Dirnt checking out Kevin’s playing in that tiny L.A. bar a couple of years ago.) I have to admit it was wonderfully weird to see so many people wearing the band’s T-shirts and buttons, while getting all excited and singing all the lyrics to the songs. It’s nice to see someone I know skyrocket to the top. These guys aren’t playing to thirty people at the skatepark anymore. The sky is the limit.

I arrived at the Key Club before The Billy Bones took the stage. So, I later checked out The Legendary Swagger on the internet and found it to be a strongly solid, chunky, punk ‘n’ roll five-piece unit from Long Beach, CA that is worthy of your attention. I am sorry I missed it. It isn’t easy to get a saxophone to fit in with all that heavy thumping and make it sound tough. See what I mean at:

I checked out a couple of songs by Motorcycle Boy, and this Hollywood based three-piece sounded pretty good. It reminds me a lot of a bluesy, foot-tapping, cleaned-up Iggy Pop. I think you might like it too:

In between sets, Duane Peters (Die Hunns, US Bombs) was doing some weird folk punk thing with him on raspy vocals and four guys backing him up on electric piano, violin, acoustic guitar, and drums. I didn’t get it at first. It grew on me a bit later, but I was in the mood for glorious noise, so I went downstairs to get away from it.

The Billy Bones took the stage within minutes of my arrival. Cool…right on time. This was what I really came for: to hear the legendary singer of The Skulls and his most-current creation come to roaring life. Just like my favorite song from this band, “All Excess” is all I need. Bam! The first tune hit us hard and I was instantly in my element: fast, hard, rhythmically raw, and bordering on the insane. Billy often reminds me of a punk rock Willy Wonka with his silly-manic demeanor, tongue-wagging funny faces, and his signature self-crafted, punked-out suits and ties. Always an overly energetic performer, Billy led his four cohorts through a well-received, sweat-soaked, jamming set that was much too short. Guitarist Alex Mack was shredding, drummer Alex Gomez was strong and steady, while bassist Drew Milford filled everything out with a wonderful, chest-rumbling, deep and rapid pulse. Billy really put together an ensemble that is on par with his past musical projects (and by the way, he is the one who first discovered Kevin Preston). Standout numbers include “Editions of You,” a steady, galloping, and bass-heavy rocker with screeching saxophone in the spirit of X-Ray Spex and “We’re Selfish,” another hard-driving, slam-worthy number more in the vein of The Skulls. The energy was contagious and most everyone was vigorously moving about, but this was an older crowd, so not too many were actually slam dancing. We oldsters prefer to enthusiastically pogo. Billy handed the microphone to my friend Cathy and me during the cover of The Skulls’ “Victims” and we had a blast shouting, “Don’t you walk alone! You’re a victim!” Yeah…so good. “All Excess” was fucking great and I love that police siren guitar fill that is an obvious tip of the hat to Buzzcocks (nee-ner, nee-ner). “All excess is all I need / Suck it up baby / Let it bleed / overkill helps me breathe / Oh Yeah!” The Class of ’77 is alive and well at:

Okay, that’s what I came for, but I stayed up front out of respect and curiosity for my friend, Mr. Kevin Preston. I got schooled. Within a few skillfully played chords, I heard myself say, “Wow!” At first, I thought the band was doing a David Bowie cover, but it was a Prima Donna original named “Soul Stripper.” The masses will eventually hear it on commercial radio soon. I read that Mr. Rodney Bingenheimer (Rodney on the Roq) has already played a number or two on his show on KROQ. When the band pounded out “Double Crosser,” I could hear a bit of a tip-of-the hat to ELO’s “Don’t Bring Me Down” in the intro before it boogied on over to some hip-swaying poppy keyboards and saxophone by the very adept and versatile Aaron Minton, who adroitly plays both instruments. During the cover of Wayne Country’s hilariously obscene “Fuck Off,” both the straight and gay element were aggressively seduced by Kevin’s rendering, “If you don’t want to fuck me, then, baby, fuck off!” Yeah, they wanted to fuck him. Everyone in this band is an exceptional musician, but Kevin is clearly the dominant and strongly erotic force to whom the rest owe their allegiance. His guitar wizardry is astounding, and his ability to command attention while merging so many styles of rock‘n’roll into a succulently palatable sonic smorgasbord is so unifying that virtually all rock genre boundaries are transcended. The glam aspect seems to have been toned down a bit, but it was still pretty sparkly…yet tough. Prima Donna brings out a crowd that is as eclectic as it is enthusiastic. Punk, glitter, new wave, roots rock, straight, gay, young and old. I saw every almost every version of the human animal enjoying the show. Do these guys inspire “Crimson Lust?” To quote from “Soul Stripper,” the answer is “Ab-so-fucking-lutely!” and as Kevin croons in “Eat Your Heart Out,” “Come on baby, just give me a try.”