By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
And that rumor that they were looking for a lead singer?
"We have a lead singer," Engle — also the band's founder, manager, and booker — told me, correcting a bit of misinformation that had run in New Times' calendar. "But we gig so often that we are looking for someone else to help out."
We found an unlikely candidate in Matt Black, who'd driven all the way up from Hollywood just to unfurl his "Rebel Yell." North of 40 and so diminutive that his T-shirt came down to his knees, he sang with such passion that when he was finished, the band's regular lead singer asked, "Can you believe that voice came out of that body?"
And some took themselves a little too seriously for the band's fun vibe. When Angel Chevere Jr. took the mic, the Hot Topic poster boy — complete with spiky hair, tattoos, piercings, and "rock" belt buckle — let us all know, "I've done this before. I am a vocalist... This is Rage Against the fucking Machine!"
His dead-on, balls-out approach to "Killing in the Name" brought out the "fuck yeah" face from the drummer as Chevere pounded the humid August air with the microphone and stomped on the hardwood floor. He screamed his way through the "fuck you I won't do what you tell me" portion of the song — just like the original dictated. Isn't it ironic?
"He's a happy-go-lucky fucking person," his buddy assured me, though by the end of the night, I tended to doubt it since he had forced the reluctant-but-accommodating band into a freestyle jam so he could scream his way through a song uniquely his own.
In the right spirit, the guy with the star-spangled right forearm (thanks to five-pointed, blue-and-red tattoos) was representing with Rick Springfield's "Jesse's Girl." But this was Ross Mahoney, who already had a rockin' job as a DJ.
When it was Ben's turn to offer up STP's "Plush," I offered my support by standing on a chair back in the ant room, a necessity to see my six-foot-four friend beyond the crowd, even in the tiny space. As he sang, a group of posers took advantage of the rock 'n' roll backdrop for what I'm sure was destined to be a MySpace photo — flirty head tilts, pursed lips, and all.
By rounds two and three, a seemingly intoxicated Jen was using her time at the mic to spoof other singer's announcements ("I'm not a professional. I'm just a karaoke singer," she said, mocking Chevere) and to comment on the band's set list ("There's not many songs for women to sing on this list," she chanted, adding some "uh-uh, uh-uh" vocal fills for emphasis.)
"We promise to have more chick songs for you next week," Johnson assured.
There was bound to be a snafu or two along the way. The only one so far seems to be that the band's set list naturally was developed for a male lead. With their talent and energy, I suspect they'll live up to their promise over the next few weeks.
"Everyone gets a turn! This is not one of those things where you have to know someone to get on the list," Johnson encouraged the sweat-soaked crowd.
So it wasn't by virtue of his stake in the place that Frielich had the opportunity to play drums for a few songs. Nor was it thanks to Kristen's punk diva status that she claimed three more minutes of mic time with the Cure's "Just Like Heaven." The usually brusque executive chef, Bruce Feingold, sent tremors of shock through the room when he opted to give Social Distortion's "Bad Luck" a go, something that co-owner Rodney Mayo called "a miracle."
As the crowd chanted "Bruce! Bruce! Bruce!" it proved that the day job can't quash the dream.