Let’s get something out of the way right up front, unfortunately for Aloha Screwdriver they opened for Southern Culture On The Skids so by the end of the show they were sort of an afterthought in my mind and I’m sure most everyone else’s too.
Aloha Screwdriver are a decent enough local surf rock outfit (Alameda YAY! Though they claimed it was an alternate dimension of Alameda). With quirky song titles like, “No Doughnuts In Hell” and “The Problem With Vodka” (Is there really a problem?) they made a good show of reverbing it to the rafters but unless you are steeped in surf (and I am not) it all kind of sounds the same after a bit. Not just from one song to the next but from one surf band to the next (The Ventures excepted of course). The shtick about being from an alternate dimension was cute and they did have a kind of softer edged off the wall Devo look going. They were loud and they shredded plenty good but again they opened for Southern Culture On The Skids who by all accounts tore a whole in the universe last Tuesday (and fittingly on the lucky 13th no less) playing so long there was barely time for a meet ‘n’ greet before the Slim’s staff gave us all the boot.
Now for those of you unfamiliar with this trio of wild animals, imagine if The B-52’s got in a head on car wreck with Stray Cats and then Bugs Bunny then dropped a safe full of classic surf records onto the wreckage. With song titles like; “Day Old Banana Pudding”, “Liquored Up And Lacquered Down”, and “Too Much Pork For Just One Fork” you can bet there is a lot of humor and whimsy. And all of that lyrical wit is put into the engine of a ’69 Lake Placid blue El Camino (which co-lead singer and bass player Mary Huff actually owns she’ll have you know). Then it is revved up and drag raced like space police are in hot pursuit as we careen through the galaxies southernmost cultures.
If you like Rock ‘n Roll- The real stuff. The Elvis and Chuck Berry stuff but updated for these weird times, Southern Culture On The Skids is that band but on mescaline. Mary Huffs red bouffant is bested only by Kate Pierson’s of the aforementioned B-52’s. And lead singer and guitarist Rick Miller looks a little like a plucked rooster as he cock-a-doodle doos through one rocker after another like he was chasing a fox out of the hen house. And again I am amazed at how three musicians can get such a full dirty kickass sound with just drums, electric guitar and bass, plus vocals. That’s it. That’s all that was all that was needed to send much of the crowd into a rockabilly comet careening across the floor.
There was a brief interlude involving the drummer and a story about how he came to acquire some of Vincent Price’s ashes (which were in attendance BTW) via Joan Rivers. Long story short (who knew Joan Rivers collected celebrity ashes)?
Mid-set they dedicated a song from the newest record called, “Freak Flag” to SF. And if my queer community was more into rock ‘n’ roll we’d have a certified new gay anthem for pride week. Beyond the humorous tale of celebrity ashes though, picking a highlight is for naught when the whole show is burning rubber and ripping up pavement in the space time continuum. But they did manage to turn it up just a little more at the end when they invited the audience on stage for the southern friend stomper, “8 Piece Box” which came with some literal southern fried chicken (yes it was an 8 piece). Surprisingly the crowd managed to get on stage, tear it up, and get off without falling down, knocking anything over, or tripping on wires…
When the smoke and dust had cleared and all that remained was shredded asphalt, cheers, and sweaty dancers, my first thought was next time they come around I’m taking EVERYBODY I know. And so should you.
Best Of Set: Liquored Up and Lacquered Down”. A special shout out to the song, “House Of Bamboo”, because that was a song I played on PopOff! for a history lesson on Hammond organs about four years back now (though no Hammond was present on Tuesday). But I discovered the band through that song, which seemed to please Mary greatly.
Side note: Mary said next time out she’d have me on stage to teach the audience the basics of the cha-cha-cha for House Of Bamboo. Yeah I kind of made an impression on the dance floor.
Show Stealer: You can never go wrong with passing out fried chicken. Never. Even in health conscious vegetarian mostly SF.
Favorite Moment: How can one top a story involving Joan Rivers in a pink nightgown and pink slippers and the ashes of Vincent Price. But I have to say some of the people around me were just super fun to be around I swear there was more smiling than I have seen in a long while in one place.
Here is the full set list of what you either witnessed or missed:
Liquored Up and Lacquered Down
House of Bamboo
Rumors of Surf
’69 El Camino
King of the Mountain
Too Much Pork for Just One Fork
Day Old Banana Pudding
8 Piece Box
Daddy Was a Preacher but Mama Was a Go-go Girl