With Love Handles, the Jameses
Respectable Street, West Palm Beach
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Better than: A fraternity party, although one guy was having a hard time telling the difference.
The review: Miami garage-rock trio Jacuzzi Boys wowed audiences in San Francisco and Brooklyn earlier this year, but the guys had never unleashed upon West Palm Beach until Saturday.
Consummate showman and vocalist Gabriel Alcala made a special point of briefly explaining the meanings behind nearly every song they performed. With punk posturings about "F-L-O-R-I-D-A" to "Dracula and Swamp Thing" to "fruits" to "astrology," the guys briskly covered a lot of ground. Behind Alcala, drummer Diego Monasterios and bassist Danny Gonzalez kept each enthusiastic blast impressively concentric -- especially given that their plaid-clad leader remained mostly enshrouded in his chest-length straight hair and mostly directed his wild eyes at the crowd when delivering songs like three-chord head-nodder "Dock" (it's about baseball.) Although several of the night's tracks embraced rawer, distorted thrusts
from the band, "Smells Dead" (about "big animals") made way for a
cleaner, pop sheen.
Much has already been made of the Alcala-Mick Jagger comparative strain -- the timbre of his voice is similar, yes. Although this is not an attempt to dispute that, several of the frontman's flourishes -- echoing hoots into the microphone, understated shuffles with his feet, and a charmed attitude about it all -- were a reminder of the way Coachwhips/Thee Oh Sees' ritual badass John Dwyer commands the stage. Although it was intentional to keep the crowd moving after the precedent set by the openers, too many raucous bodies bouncing around led to a scuffle, and Alcala shouted "Stop being frat boys" with no hesitation. When a young woman in sparkly pants decided to dance on stage and dive into the crowd at the end of the set, the vibe had already turned welcoming enough that she was buoyed along, albeit briefly.
Earlier on, area keyboard magnates the Jameses rocketed through their set with aplomb, which was only slightly stifled by drummer Danny Hitchcock feeling ill. "5th Dimension" has a mesmerizing three-note arpeggio repeated at the outset ideal for the slot machines that'll eventually be erected at the first intergalactic casino. Speaking of hitting the jackpot (zing!), Lake Worth's Love Handles decided to expand from a twosome to a seven-piece supergroup featuring members of Weird Wives, Guy Harvey, the Jameses, Lesson Lesson Lessen Relearn, and Cop City/Chill Pillars. Normally, C.J. Jankow plays guitar, but with Guy Harvey's Adam Perry carrying that load, he got to explore his gifts as a gesticulating wizard in front of the tight-packed madness behind him.
Woefully, the video does not get a good shot of Weird Wives' Nick Klein on the bongos, nor does it include a lengthy set-closing jam extolling the virtues of "Saturday Night."
If this is what a local Jacuzzi Boys sighting brings out, let's have them back soon.
Overheard: "They're like South Florida's Traveling Wilburys," someone standing near me said regarding Love Handles.
The crowd: Young, restless, and occasionally fabulous. With all of the feverish dancing, it was a guarantee that someone else's sweat was all over your forearms by the end.
Random detail: This is what the Jacuzzi Boys' T-shirts that were at the merch table look like: