Saturday, September 16, 2006

Two red aunts on the loose

Despite being bone-tired on Friday night, I dragged myself to Magnetic Field, on Atlantic Avenue, to see Two Tears, a band that had come to my attention only last week. I had noticed the name on the Magnetic Field website as I was looking up their band schedule for the Atlantic Antic fair on Sunday (MagField is a great rock bar, staffed by the nicest people on earth, or at least in Brooklyn; please drop by for a drink and a song). For some reason the name Two Tears caught my eye and I looked it up, only to discover it involved Kerri Davis, who used to play guitar and sing in the Red Aunts. Suddenly it became imperative I see them.

I wrote fairly regularly about L.A.'s Red Aunts in the ’90s (these pieces aren't online, except for this old Time Out review), and nearly a decade after they split, they remain one of my favorite bands from that time. Unlike quite a few faves from back then that now make me cringe (most of the K stuff), the Red Aunts' albums endure as masterpieces of anarchic scuzz . They barely made it to the 30-minute mark (the back of my favorite, 1995's #1 Chicken, boasts "14 songs 23 minutes") and the accompanying live shows were incendiary. A lot of dude-type critics derided the Red Aunts for the fact they couldn't play—which is true, they were barely adequate instrumentalists—but technique was never the point with them, and even as they improved, they still showed no interest in writing complete songs. They didn't seem to capture the girl imagination the way the riot grrl bands did, either, perhaps because the Red Aunts didn't have a message, they were more like nihilistic juvenile delinquents screaming themselves hoarse about how they could kick your ass and not even give two shits about it.

The MP3s on the Two Tears website are more in a garage vein and less screechy, though Davis's tunes continue to be under two minutes with no discernable structure. Live, I was delighted to see that…could it be? YESSSS! The bassist was another Aunt, Debi Martini—aka EZ Wider, aka Connie Champagne, aka Debi Dip—now with longer hair but the same stance, impossibly cool with her back half to the audience. She and Davis even still wrote the set list on their forearms in black Sharpie, the way they did in the Red Aunts. The set was short and rocking, it could not have been a finer Friday-evening show. Alas, it looks as if it's going to be the last Two Tears gig for a while, as EZ Wider informed me afterwards that Davis is moving to Dubai.

The other two bands on the bill were a lot of fun as well, even if I didn't have the same sentimental connection. Locals Imaginary Icons and Michigan's MHz share a member and a taste for arty, sharp garage-punkitude, similar to early Pere Ubu. MHz's guitarist-singer Andy Claydon also runs Flying Bomb Records and was kind enough to hand me a label comp CD and a single by old Michigan faves Bantam Rooster. Loot!

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