Say what you will about the strip mall, that ubiquitous bastion of South Florida culture. Some misinformed newcomers will maintain that there can't possibly be any value in the much-maligned cinder block collars that ring our plentiful parking lots. In some parts of Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties this is true, yet the western fringes usually hold tasty international victuals that can't be had anywhere else, and they always boast weird nightclubs.
Do not be afraid, then, to venture into T-zer's Lounge, a place where, if you arrive unattached, your most depraved dreams just might come true. Yes, as is the case at so many watering holes in these parts, the power of cheap, wanton sex holds sway over all who enter here. "You don't want to bring your girlfriend to this place," advises Dr. John (not the gris-gris Louisianian, but the bassist for the Necrophiles, the band we'd come to see). The few girlfriends we did spot were wearing plaid skirts and thigh-high boots -- the kind who probably wouldn't mind a little bit of naughty fun, T-zer's style.
Suffice it to say, the dog-end of July 24 and bleary beginnings of July 25 were flecked with spilled beakers of sticky liquor, sticky nipples (including buttery, slippery, brown, pink, and duct-taped versions), G-strings ("those come off later") flaunted by frisky cocktail waitresses, Heinekens that seemed to appear spontaneously, hazy memories of events that seemed impossible -- in short, a very, very bad good time.
It sure didn't look that way when we strolled into the sorta-sports bar on West Commercial Boulevard and found a few goth kids hunkering down for the night. For starters, a back-to-back Bob Seger jukebox ambush opened a vortex in the very fabric of space and time: That's what a live version of "Night Moves" followed up by "Old Time Rock & Roll" will do.
But the Necrophiles -- Dr. John, keyboardist Seamus, and drummer Ed Malone -- banished those demons with compelling, spooky grooves and sheer force of novelty. "We're probably the only surf band with no guitar," claims the good doctor. Drawing on polar extremes of darkness ("Iron Man") and light (the Sesame Street theme), the Necrophiles don't have a whole lot to say -- those instrumental bands hardly ever do -- but they say that nothing simply and powerfully.
Without the twang of six bent strings, it falls to Dr. John's bass to take over the surf spotlight. He does, using his plectrum to sketch out rapid arpeggios and quick riffs from the high end of the neck, but still descending downward to conjure up a slow, thick soup reminiscent of early PIL or Cocteau Twins. But since he's from the old school, Dr. John holds up the original bass-as-melodic-instrument pioneer, Chris Squire of Yes, as his inspiration.
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"From the name and the image, most people expect us to be a serious goth band," Dr. John explains, "but we actually have a sense of humor." This was made clear as the black-clad trio stood in the bathroom applying black lipstick and leis of colorful flowers before presenting a sturdy set that Dr. John warned would amount to "a conglomeration of surf and goth mixed together, like Christian Death and Black Sabbath combined with the Ventures and Dick Dale." Seamus added the obligatory movie samples and ominous horror-house drones, while Malone kept the whole thing together with his precise fills, but Dr. John took charge with his reinterpretation of the bass guitar as lead instrument.
Neptune B, which followed, was positively flaccid by comparison, and not just because the Necrophiles had featured a woman gyrating in hot pants and the aforementioned duct tape. And not just because of the two girls swapping spit behind us, who were more fun to watch. Honest.
May I please be the first to say, "Peaches is no more, and I'm glad, because it was the suckiest record store in town?" Well, I just did, and it feels quite cathartic. Peaches is deservedly out of business, because it was an institution only in the sense of institutional food. The place did have some fans, such as those who wanted to pay a lot of money for the new J.Lo CD. Now they'll just have to hoof it to Best Buy. The rest of us can continue to patronize the pretty-darn-good Uncle Sam's in Lauderhill or drive down to Blue Note Records in North Miami Beach, home of the most knowledgeable crew in South Florida record storedom.