I like Mr. T’s Bowl. It’s unpretentious. Beer bottles in the parking lot. No security guards harassing kids for loitering outside. It’s a venue that knows what it is: a dump. And that’s a good thing. Only the Cog in Echo Park and the Smell beat it. Consider it the antithesis of those Sunset Strip venues—home of bands redefining the genre of rock seven nights a week (or so the adverts say).
Wounded Lion was on tonight. Like Mr. T’s Bowl, they’re unpretentious too. The Lion’s bassist Jun is still rocking Croakies (Kurt Rambis) to keep his glasses on, although tonight he augmented his stage gear, opting for a mid-‘60s Elvis V-neck shirt (blends in with the Jungle Room at Graceland) as opposed to his usual Yorkshire Terrier T-shirt. Main singer Brad still looks like a substitute teacher (he actually was an art teacher for about a decade). Drummer Ami really threw Wounded Lion fans off tonight though; she’s got a new pair of glasses. Thankfully for identification purposes Ami’s still using a bass drum that looks like a prop from Werner Herzog’s Even Dwarves Started Small. Ami and Moe Tucker are the only female drummers around playing bass drums “incorrectly” (i.e. right).
Tonight’s set was mostly a new batch. Although Wounded Lion doesn’t have a 7” out yet (soon though—like less than a month), a lot of the older stuff (“Carol Cloud”) regulars know was skipped. Stylistically the new material was as varied as Wounded Lion’s older stuff. Brad’s guitar sounded like Wire’s Colin Newman’s on some songs, Roky Erickson’s on others. The usual postmodern (Fredric Jameson) barrage of brands (Coors Light beer) and images (Muppet Babies) were evident in Brad’s lyrics, giving young Baudrillardians food for thought (if in fact the postmodern exists).
Wounded Lion also debuted a new feature tonight—everyone (with the exception of Jun) took lead vocals at some point. Raffi sang a garage number; Ami her cover of the Clash’s “Career Opportunities” (the Sandinista! version Mickey Gallagher’s kids sing on). Ami sings with the indifference of Mark E. Smith or the Subway Sect’s Vic Godard. The main differences being: 1.) She’s got an incredibly high voice; 2.) she’s cute; and 3.) unlike the crotchety Mark Smith, Ami still has all her teeth. Unfortunately sometimes second drummer Chris was missing tonight. Chris plays a mean skillet—literally, like Wall of Voodoo’s Joe Nanini. (Why more bands aren’t taking up the two drummer thing is beyond me. Look what it did for SavageRepublic and the early ‘80s Fall lineup.)
A Wounded Lion litmus test for a successful show (as told to me by Brad): If Raffi (percussionist, dancer) is dancing up a storm, the Lion is on. Tonight Raffi looked like Lenin on PCP. Mission accomplished. Look for the upcoming single on S-S Records.