AGENT ORANGE, THE MOUTH-OFFS, FLEXX BRONCO
Grant & Green
by Dave Negative
AO

This venue turned out to be a small bar on the corner of Grant and Green in SF's North Beach. So finding a place to park within walking distance that was relatively secluded from tourists and cops where one of my ex-roommates and I could test the potency of certain substances we'd acquired before the show proved to be difficult but not impossible.

I knew I was going to hate Flexx Bronco after overhearing one of their neo-new wave/mullet-metal hipster fans describe them as "Trashed out party-music like old Mötley Crüe, you know? Except they don't look it." True enough, the band, except for lead guitarist "Filthy" in his black fedora and eyeliner, looked like the kind of bar-jock posers that hit Lucky 13 after a game at AT&T Park to pick up "Suicide Girls" and played mid-80's cock-rock as if competing to see who could outdo the rest in embarrassingly clichéd onstage hamminess. You want an example? Try vocalist "M. Kells" announcing Filthy and rhythm guitarist "JackII Lawless"'s incessant two-man solos by shrieking things like "WE'RE GONNA KICK DOWN THE DOOR AND PAR-TAAAY, MOTHERFUCKERS!" while drummer "Thor Bigsby" would twirl his sticks between his fingers for added theatrical emphasis. And the aforementioned hipsters, in their own phony way, "loved" it. Raising lighters above their side-swepted bangs or throwing up devil horns in ironic praise.

Sounding like a watered-down American version of X-Ray Specs - substituting droll anti-consumer culture sentiments for catty "bad girl" shit-talking and relying on the same (early) Blondie, Josie Cotton and Runaways influences as every other local female-fronted retro-80's act, The Mouth-Offs were nothing to get excited about. I've always had a soft spot for early "punk" bands that used synthesizers aggressively (ie. Catholic Discipline, The Screamers, Devo, etc.) but their kind of cutesy garage-wave like "Do You Wana Go Steady?" which high-pitched lead singer/saxophonist Janette and keyboard player/backup vocalist Shannon dedicated "To all these cute boys we see here in the audience tonight," pointing a few of them out for guitarist Doug to admire as well, was just annoying. And not in a "good" way. Although Janette's pushing some drunk shag-head left over from Flexx Bronco's set, who stood infront of the stage with his arms outstretched intentionally blocking our view during her sax solos, into a puddle of spilt beer causing him to slip and fall flat on his ass was pretty damn funny.

Agent Orange has remained a favorite of mine throughout the years in spite of the fact that I haven't liked anything they've done studio-wise since When You Least Expect It... based solely on the strength of their live performances. Singer/guitarist Mike Palm and drummer Scott Miller cranked out "No Such Thing," "Everything Turns Grey," "The Last Goodbye," "Living In Darkness," "Eldorado," and "Bored Of You" from the band's early singles and first LP, choice material from This Is The Voice, and covers of The Chantays' "Pipeline" and Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody To Love" at a steady pace. Their hook-filled late 70's punk rock/power-pop overdrive and reverb-drenched surf sounding quite a bit "heavier" than usual thanks to bassist Bruce Taylor from pioneering Arizona skate-core thrashers J.F.A. The only hitch as far as their set went was Mike breaking a string at the end of "Too Young To Die" after dedicating it to The Vandals' original singer, "Steveo" (aka. Steven Jensen), who recently died of an O.D., providing some of us in the crowd an opportunity to sarcastically deride him with shouts of "Fix your piece of shit guitar already, old man!" Their perennial closer "Bloodstains" arousing a last minute tumult on the dancefloor that all but knocked senseless an out of place fetish/goth clubber dressed in a camouflage teddy and ski mask ensemble attempting to do her "Gothic Tai Chi" dance.

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