I saw the Strange Boys Sunday night at the Smell. Some friends and I had been “playing” football earlier, so we brought the ball into the club and were throwing it around in the crowd and dogpiling each other while the band played.
I’ve seen these guys twice that I remember–once in a crowded basement room with kids literally bouncing off the ceiling, and once at Emo’s Lounge in Austin (their current hometown) when I was drunk beyond recognition and everyone and everything was covered in a Biblical-proportions plague of nasty black crickets–but this was the first time I’d seen them with good sound and no distractions. The Smell pulled out all the stops to make these guys sound good on their crappy PA. Though I missed the keyboard (they usually have a Nord on a classic keys setting), I loved how jangly their tunes sounded with just the two guitars. Imagine all those songs on Back From the Grave that nobody ever DJ’s or plays on the radio because the vocals are too growly, the lyrics are too simple, or the beat is too Bo Diddley. Somehow these guys found the beauty in them and took them to the next level, like the Las meets the Kinks meets the Pretty Things in a Texas roller rink in 1965. And like the Back From the Grave bands, these kids look like they’re about 16 (even though they can party like Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash after shows). They don’t play like amateur kids, though–each tight song was kept at a pace just slow enough to let you know that five incarnations ago, this music came from the blues.
Some might see a bit of the Black Lips in this band, and that’s no lie. They steal from the same source material, do the same drugs, and play the same clubs. Even the outfits looked similar, what with all the stripes and beanie caps. But where the Lips fuzz out into a psychedelic unine spray, the Strange Boys keep it clean and jangly and let the punk shine forth from the vocals and the rhythmic stops. Your body moves and your fists pump (“Do the Monkey” style) when you see this band. Either they get famous, or I quit rock and roll.
P.S. I left without seeing Mika Miko or No Age because I’m that fucking hip.
P.P.S. My girlfriend had football warpaint under her eyes and a Soviet officer’s cap on, so she kind of looked like Nikki Sixx. It was hot.