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[whitespace] Sticking to Its Guns

The L.A. Guns are hanging in even as their fans are reduced to a diehard core

By Sarah Quelland

SAN JOSE wasn't terribly kind to Hollywood rock band L.A. Guns when it played the Cactus Club last Friday (Sept. 7). The group rolled up in style in a tour bus that reportedly used to belong to the late stock-car racing champion Dale Earnhardt. It wasn't long, however, before some overzealous police officer slapped them with a parking ticket for being in the loading zone in front of the club and threatened to have their bus towed. What a welcome.

San Jose has such a notorious reputation for meager attendance at shows that sell out elsewhere that it's generally not worth mentioning, but in this case it seems relevant. Just over 10 years ago--when "The Ballad of Jayne" hit the airwaves, and the video reintroduced top hats as a fashion accessory--a front-row ticket to an L.A. Guns show would have been in high demand. On Friday, however, a front-row view was pretty much guaranteed to anyone who wanted it.

Still, this was a much different show than the one the band performed earlier this year at the Usual. Less professional, more happy-go-lucky, the Guns looked determined to make the most of a bad situation and just have a good time. Smiling and waving to the crowd, frontman Phil Lewis appeared to be stumbling drunk. And though he could probably stand to do a few sit-ups if he's going to insist on wearing half shirts, his voice was every bit as strong as it was a decade ago. Watching Tracii Guns shred on his guitar solos was a treat, and as much as these guys were playing for the audience, they were playing for themselves and enjoying every minute of it.

When one heckler shouted out the tired line "Play some Skynyrd," Lewis jokingly replied, "We're gonna play 'Free Bird' for the rest of the night." Though the band has a new record out (Man in the Moon), Lewis kept his promise to do mostly old stuff, indulging in only two songs from the new album: the title track and "Hypnotized." The rest of the night was filled with the classics: "Sex Action," "Electric Gypsy" and "Rip and Tear." I was encouraged to see a band like L.A. Guns still touring. Bands today would do well to take a few lessons from experienced vets who've survived the rock & roll fairy tale and are still standing. The band plays again Sept. 16-17 at the Pound in San Francisco with the Mimsies, the Servants and others.

It's official. Local trio Creamsickle has broken up, and its scheduled new release, Creamsickle Gets Turned On, has been shelved until further notice. Mike Wills, who handled vocal and bass duties, left the group; drummer Cole Berggren and guitarist David Pousho are working on getting a new band together.

After taking home two Kerrang! Awards, Papa Roach heads into the studio this fall to lay down tracks for the follow-up to Infest. The boys landed producer Brendan O'Brien (Rage Against the Machine, Korn), and the sophomore effort should drop next spring. In the meantime, look for the band's DVD to hit stores Nov. 13.

Don't forget, the last SoFA Street Fair will be held this Sunday (Sept. 16) along South First Street in downtown San Jose. Coordinator Gary Walker has put an urgent call out for old sofas to be donated to the event. Contact Sheri at 831.338.2578 to arrange for a free pick-up. SoFA's outdoor performances run 11am-7pm, with the clubs staying open late. New adds include high-profile San Francisco rock band, Swarm, which kicks off the Zero stage at 11am, along with fellow opening-band contest winners Box Lunch and My Fat Sister. Not Hot has also been added to the Cactus lineup, and Ultravibe's Sound Off 2001 winner Lords of the Manor are playing the Usual.

PLAN AHEAD: Plumage and others, Sept. 13 at the Cactus; MxPx, Sept. 14 at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz; Adverse Side-FX, Sept. 15 at the Aptos Club in Aptos; Long Beach Dub Allstars, Sept. 15 at Maritime Hall in San Francisco; They Might Be Giants and the Bicycle Thief, Sept. 18 at the Usual; Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Sept. 21-22 at the Warfield in San Francisco; M.I.R.V., Sept. 22 at the Cactus; Professional Murder Music, Luxt and My Ruin, Sept. 22 at the Pound; Face to Face, Sept. 29 at the Catalyst; Motorhead, Sept. 30 at the Great American Music Hall; Tesla, Oct. 11 at the Warfield.

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From the September 13-19, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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