I saw Mika Miko and Jay Reatard last night at All Star Lanes in Eagle Rock. I gotta say, this place kicks ass as a musical venue. The stage is low to the ground and is somewhat partitioned off by a drop in the roof, so that it feels cozy when you’re snug against the stage. Yet the rest of the bar is actually quite large, with plenty of booths and chairs to sit at and tables for your drinks if you want to hang back and listen. The PA is decent, the drinks are cheap, there’s plenty of parking and room to smoke outside, and hey, if you get bored, you can always grab some shoes and bowl!
Mika Miko did their hard-pounding shout punk thing in the top-notch way we’ve come to expect. I got there a little late, so only saw Jenna on the mike (not sure if anybody else in the band sings lead anymore), and while I kinda wished she’d pick up a saxo-mo-phone and wail, she looked like she was having a blast belting out whatever she was belting out. This is one of those bands that’s garnered a rather large and blended fanbase of patch-wearing punkers, emo kids, rockabilly gals, Smell-enthusiasts, outre-weirdos, and record store clerks, so it was fairly packed. The punkers definitely outnumbered the rest of ’em, though. What with Mika Miko’s driving four-four beat, people slam-dancing, and Keith Morris standing behind the DJ set-up, it could have been a South Bay show circa 1982.
Jay Reatard was I guess the headliner–they’re actually playing tonight at a much larger venue, the Wiltern, opening up for the Black Keys. But last night was their time to shine in an environment more suitable for their soured-milk splendor. They played a bit better than I’d expected–I wasn’t expecting crap, but live they sounded less precious than in their recordings, yet more nuanced than what we heard with Mika Miko. They shot out rough gem after rough gem with chords and vocals that to my ears sounded a bit like midwest mid-eighties rock, though perhaps unintentionally: I heard a touch of the Replacements, the Dead Milkmen, and early early R.E.M. in and amongst all the Wipers-sounding stuff. The crowd could not help but groove along, boogie-ing and slamming into each other in a friendly, inviting way. I saw more than one white-haired old dude pushing people back and forth to the beat. And one of the old dudes “in the pit” was me. It was that infectious.
Some band that was not Bad Parents followed (found out later it was Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout), covered in sweat, make-up, and various costumery. Really, they couldn’t match the musical ferocity and joy of Jay Reatard, but what they lacked in songs they more than made up for in having a good time flailing around in the audience and shouting a bunch. I can’t blame them for having a hard time keeping it together–the audience, drunk from the free Dewers earlier in the evening and fagged out by two hard-driving bands in a row, basically bailed on the third act and either left or gave themselves high fives in the parking lot for attending such a grand event. I left early, too, but may wind up going to see the REAL Bad Parents on the 6th at the Smell.
I have no idea what Mika Miko were doing with this phone. Maybe they wanted a pizza!
P.P.S. Apparently L.A. Record just interviewed Jay Reatard. Check it out.