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Their rave-influenced, glow-in-the-dark costumes and fluorescent makeup inspire Danny Kaye doubletakes. But when the theatrics wear off, an attack of gnarly, postpunk pop is what helps Al's Not Well win over a crowd.
"After people get over the initial shock of how we look, they usually say, 'Wow, these guys actually sound good,'" percussionist Kala notes proudly. "One chick described our show as being on a roller coaster ride while on an acid trip, because there's all these enormous colors all over the place. There's ups and downs, loop-de-loops, and we have lots of fun playing."
Kala and his bandmates -- Rick (bass), Eddy (drums), Bleu (backing vocals, tambourine), and Joce (lead vocals, guitar) -- released their first CD last year on the Pembroke Pines label Panacea. After lots of touring by the band, locally and nationally (opening gigs for Duran Duran and Fishbone), and regional radio airplay, the aptly titled Glitter has been picked up by the Los Angeles label Beyond Music. The remastered disc will be released nationally this month.
One of the best tracks on Glitter is the bass-heavy "DIS-EASE (Please Believe)," which showcases Bleu's ability to weave breathy oohs and ahhs through Joce's baby-doll-voiced lead. On a percussion-driven cover of Blondie's "One Way or Another," Deborah Harry herself supplies some of the vocals while the rhythm section rips along like a buzz saw.
Don't feel alarmed at a live show if you're surrounded by people who look somewhat like the Oompa-Loompas from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Calling themselves the Glitter Bugs, they paint their faces with Crayola-bright colors and silvery glitter, just like the band.
"When we're on stage, it's like pure energy," Kala says. "Everybody connects. It's like a figure eight of energy. We absorb each other's [energy] on stage, then our energy goes out to them. It's like a big filter. When we have that energy... it's amazing."
On Sunday, Al's Not Well will perform at Spanky's Backstage in West Palm Beach, where its members will hang their signature cutouts, glittered stars, around the stage, turning it into their own little space station. And because nobody in the band is taller than five-feet-six-inches, expect them to hop on their tippy-toes while thrashing about.