We got poked in the eye by the erect liberty-spiked locks of a pogo-ing kid at the Distillers' sold-out Roxy gig Saturday night, but we didn't mind. The crowd's decidedly old-school bent was a welcome change from the shirtless jock-rock buffoonery we've been enduring at "punk" shows lately. Indeed, the vibe and volume of the eve, which also featured Rancid side project the Transplants, harked back to those sweaty hardcore shows of yore, where anything could happen and nothing mattered except the explosive energy generated between the stage and the audience.
The Distillers, led by Rancid guy Tim Armstrong's wife Brody, are all about that kind of unbridled aggression, and yet their songs are undeniably buoyant sing-along slabs. The combustible combination is finally getting them some serious buzz, but with the attention come the (obvious) comparisons, namely to her hubby and to another rough-voiced rock chick. Yes, her sandpapery shrieks may bear a resemblance to Courtney Love's on a few tunes, but ultimately Brody comes off brasher, bolder and not quite as bitchy. There's a Joan Jett/Mike Ness thing going on with Brody's vox too, and hints of Discharge, the Germs and even Motorhead burned through the boisterous beatdowns they offered from their self-titled debut and their latest release, Sing Sing Death House, a disc full of fierce female-slanted confessionals and a couple of cuts that could actually make 'em famous (with credibility intact): "The Young Crazed Peeling" and the latest great L.A. anthem, "City of Angels."
Speaking of punk cred, Tim Armstrong may have dealt with doubters when Rancid scored some hits, but that's not likely to happen with the Transplants, even with the presence of a Blink-182 member. The band (who were joined by Armstrong's bandmate Lars Frederiksen for a couple of numbers) opened up the show with a barrage of raging three-chord grinds that not only let Travis Barker go nuts on the skins for once, but showed that angry music can still be fun as hell.
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