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Concert Review: Jacuzzi Boys at Radio-Active Records, December 18

The Jacuzzi Boys  

With Boise Bob and His Backyard Band 

Radio-Active Records, Fort Lauderdale 

Friday, December 18, 2009

Better Than: Being waist-deep in one of them hot tubs with water jets.

The Review:

The crowd came to Radio-Active Records this past Friday for the Jacuzzi Boys. But for those, like me, who showed up before 9 p.m., they had to first endure Boise Bob and His Backyard Band, a foursome on string washtub bass, banjo, washboard and guitar. Like the Disney Country Bear Jamboree gone jam-band, they piled on the backyard kitsch with songs like "Kmart Shoppers" and "I Luv Possum Meat." My Florida pride kicked in with the refrain, "I like living in a swamp!" I can picture them as the house band for Jimbo's in Virginia Key -- toothless and sitting amongst abandoned and dilapidated cars, grabbing skunked Budweisers out of a communal cooler. (They call this vibe "Old Florida," but if those foreclosures continue, it could well be Florida's new Mad Max-flavored future.)

In the lull following, everyone remembered they were in a record store and began fingering through Ted Nugent record sleeves that sat within reach. (Have you seen the cover of Scream Dream recently? There are no words.) Hipster parents with children in noise-blocking headphones examined Iron Forge Press concert posters. I saw a 70-year-old man tell a 13-year-old girl that the Kinks album she was holding was one of his favs.

Right about the time the store should be closing, the Jacuzzi Boys finally hit the stage. Although the Jacuzzi Boys have been labeled "surf rock" by this very publication, Friday's performance cemented their sound as late-'60s garage rock, full of crowded arrangements of distorted guitars and shout-sung lyrics. The threesome opened the set with "Island Ave," arguably their most accessible song, with strong melodies laced in between fuzzboxed guitars and reverbed vocals. A few songs later, the all-ages, brown-bagged-beer-wielding crowd erupted in a dance frenzy when they played a cover of the Black Kids' " I'm not Going to Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You."

The hype surrounding the Jacuzzi Boys is much deserved. The band's three-cord sound is not only infectious, but tight, and their onstage presence has more charisma than a lot of national acts. Frontman Gabriel Alcala, who devoted two songs to "all you Florida cats," barked out lyrics with a breathless sexual urgency, evoking the lusty and possessed Mick Jagger. For most of the set, Alcala's chestnut hair fell in curtains over his face as he swayed and shook with the guitar riffs. Every now and again, he'd tilt his head back and stare wide-eyed at an unwitting member of the audience. 

The Jacuzzi Boys howled and rocked for nearly an hour, rounding off the night with two encore songs after the crowd shouted for more, ending with a frantic Bad Brains cover. And with that, us Florida cats left, the heady Jacuzzi Boy sound still pulsing in our ears.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: Big fan of the moaning and groaning of Howlin' Wolf.

Random Detail: Short of ripping off his shirt and morphing into a canine, singer Gabriel Alcala -- with his high check bones, long brown locks and penchant for howling -- is a dead ringer for Twilight's Jacob Black.

By the Way: Celebrity fan base? Check. In a recent interview, Iggy Pop said: "There's a band here in Miami called the Jacuzzi Boys. It's a stupid name but they've got a good spirit. Shout out to the Jacuzzi Boys!"

-- Amanda McCorquodale 

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