Brick's 40th Birthday
(at Al's Bar, Los Angeles)
[This was an email to Christian Lunch on April 7, 1997-he had tried to make it down for the bash, but couldn't make it.]
Show was great--a strange mix of Teutonically precise stage management (it ended EXACTLY on schedule) and gloriously and excessively American rockin' out weirdness. I took pictures all night and the whole affair was recorded on DAT. My wife had bought an enormous birthday cake of the deepest chocolate but more about that later. All the bands played their asses off. Edwin asked if he could play a few toons with his new band the Spit Force Five and by 8:06 he announces this is our last song and two minutes later he's saying thanks and I'm going what? So they played another song and were done in 11 minutes! Weird. Cool stuff, tho'--and Edwin gets to play leads! Reminded me a lot of an old band of his called Oozing Thumb. The new Lexington Devils are incredible, beyond the blooz sound of the Jakk, absolutely impossible to describe. "L. Ron's Cupboard" in particular was strong, and they did this amazing version of the Stevie Wonder toon "I Wish" as an encore. Many in the audience had suddenly become mysteriously hungry and demanded the cake be cut--so the candles were placed (by Crazy Dean the Taping Machine--who else?) lit and blown out (after a truly pathetic and incredibly shortened "Happy Birthday") and the munchies-crazed herd descended....
Scratch Bongo Wax--you'd love these guys--were so amped it verged on the scary and their flipped out singer was weird beyond words. I handed him a piece of birthday cake while he's onstage and instantly in one glorious splat it's all over his head. Meanwhile he's reaching into a big bag and hurling all sorts of things--food, really weird food, dog toys, party favors, noise makers, records--into the crowd. Of course, they played SO FUCKING LOUD that they drove all but the dumbest of us into the other rooms (or out onto the herbal patio) to protect what survives of our hearing. Repeated pleas from the audience of "Robert, TURN DOWN!!!" fell on his apparently long deaf ears and I suppose too some people were a bit freaked at the amount of stuff that Craig was hurling through the rank Al's Bar air in their direction. Singles, in particular, have an especially nasty look careening frisbee-like threw a crowd. He puked at will during "Surfing Turd" (but this failed to impress Fearless Leader's Sarge, who yelled from the floor--"Anybody can upchuck--it takes a MAN to clean it up!") Still, Craig spat and writhed and stood on his head with alacrity throughout his four shirt performace. Paul Grant saw him later outside on the street, crouched down, "silent--just staring with those eyes..."
Cheeseburger are very cool, a touch of surf, a little spaghetti western, a lot of classic Edwin-mania--and Edwin was dressed to the nines in his famous cheetah suit and foot-high matching shoes. By now the club was seriously filling up and I was being somewhat overwhelmed by inebriated "Happy Birthdays" and didn't notice that apparently Edwin had spent the bulk of the set trashing me.... The Punk Rock Vatos are an incredibly rocking punk band featuring Jaime who I've known since he used to play all of Ron and Janie's parties in the early 80's and they tore the place up. Wayne Pemberton (ex-Thirsty Brat, now a Luxury Cruiser) was forced up on stage with them for "Chinese Rock" which he lit into with all the fury of a former user--then Backbiter played a thirty minute set of three songs headbangingly segued into one another followed up by a quickie "I Want You Right Now" MC5-style that lifted the roof off the joint.
Fearless Leader had spent an hour putting on make-up and diapers full of chili and creamed corn and chocolate pudding and when they hit the stage the packed house was in a frenzy but they had what seemed like the worst drummer in LA and were so incredibly awful it was hysterical, Sarge's amp all fucked up going on and off and on and off irregularly, the drummer beating away ametrically in the background, insults flying. As the band started the second song Sarge was in a fury packing up, a guy in a diaper and clown make-up, in the middle of the stage putting his guitar away in its case. Finally I sat in on drums and things tightened up somewhat but this only seemed to work up the audience even more and the food starting flying thick and fast and within seconds a large slice of birthday cake slammed into my arm and slid off slowly and grotesquely. (Bob Lee later took credit for that--"It was your birthday" he explained...) Then came more cake, beer, cups--meanwhile the contents of the various diapers came loose and poured all over the stage and the three clowns before me were sliding and falling about, Sarge--guitarless now--screamed into two mikes and began to slither across the stage like an evil serpent and bit the others on the leg. Basically it was punk as fuck--raunchy and rockin' and fierce and funny and stoopid and scary with maximum audience participation. Finally--I looked up, trying to concentrate on these songs I had not played in a decade (if at all) and there was Alien Rock butt naked (well not completely--I'm told that he was wearing a rubber) and I started laughing so hard I couldn't play and just sat there being pelted as they ranted and slid and danced and screamed and oozed and then I got back under control and launched into the toon again (it was their drawn out classic "Sunshine Superstar" with the classic chant "Peace / Love / War / Hate" and the chorus "it's the way you are (x4) you're a super star (x2) you're a sunshine superstar, Baby") and it ended in a huge finale when suddenly Alien Rock, nude and covered with slime and crud threw his skinny nekkid body into the drums and the kit flew apart all over me and the stage.
And it ended at exactly 1:15.