Man! I Feel Like a Woman!
“I’m the King—but with a pussy!” growled Texas Terri Laird into an undulating, malodorous sea of boas and black leather at the Continental on Saturday night. Wiry, heavily tattooed arms flung up in the air, neon-haired Terri—with a scary-lean body (and face!) shockingly like Iggy’s—cut a mean figure, and it seemed the crowd was indeed wondering whether this king really did have a pussy.
After all, there was her previous triumphant declaration—”I’m a man!”—midway through the set, but there were also persuasive songs like the fabulous chest-pounder “Cave Woman” (“I am a survivor, your species seems to be weak, my grunts say more than the words you speak no, no uh! I might club me a boy tonight and take him back to my cave”). L.A.’s Texas Terri and the Stiff Ones play, as she told me, “raunchy rock’n’roll,” getting the rhythm section down like no band since the Stooges (whom they cover), pounding out numbers reminiscent of their dirty “Loose” and the Fall’s hyperactive “Psycho Mafia.” Terri taunted the audience (“C’mon, fuckers!”), performed most of the set in just her black Wonderbra (once flashing her breasts, adorned with scant electrical tape spelling “TXT”), poured water on her head, rode on a fan’s shoulders, and finally stalked out into the crowd, grabbing bodies to dance with as the throng parted in a wacked-out parody of a line dance. Terri, whose trade secret is snorting cayenne pepper before she takes the stage, was awesome by virtue not only of her grizzled, husky voice, but also her complete brashness, her unapologetic—and yet strangely earnest—narcissism. With her “rock’n’roll zipper” on her skintight pants (it comes undone by itself when she starts singing, as she pointed out), her big hair, and her big makeup, Terri is like fellow Texan Jerry Hall and lewd colleague Mick Jagger rolled into one. —Hillary Chute
Beer and Loathing
The most entertaining portion of last month’s Grammys wasn’t the infamous Eminem/Elton duet but a series of tongue-in-cheek Heineken beer commercials, which deigned to unveil certain mysteries of pop culture. One of those ads, which depicted how scratching was invented, has infuriated some members of the hip-hop community, including the real scratchmaster, GrandWizzard Theodore, who invented the art form at age 13 in 1975 and is now calling for a boycott of Heineken. The spot in question showed an unknown DJ spinning at a party in 1982 who discovers scratching after he spills a Heineken on his record.
The boycott campaign might be an attempt to drum up publicity for Theodore, who, unlike contemporaries Afrika Bambaataa and Kool Herc, has kept a low profile since his ’80s heyday. In a prepared statement, GrandWizzard Theodore said: “It’s a disgrace to the Hip Hop culture . . . They have the audacity to give wrong information about how scratching started!” He added, “They must have been drinking too many Heinekens when they made this commercial.”
Other well-known DJs and turntablists, including New York’s Kuttin Kandi and the Invisibl Skratch Piklz’s Q-Bert, expressed support for Theodore’s mission, and fired off page-long rants. “I will not sit here and watch as we, people of Hip-Hop culture, continue to play a part in the lies that corporate America has created,” writes Kuttin Kandi.
The other ads hilariously spoofed the origin of the peace sign and the tradition of holding lighters aloft at rock concerts. So far, no protests have been organized on behalf of Deadheads or heavy metal fans. Perhaps Theodore and co. could benefit from some sage advice from another hip-hop artist. As Eminem says: “Relax, get a sense of humor.” —Tricia Romano
Under the Influence
File in your mental record store under “B,” in the bin just to the left of Buffalo Springfield, Burrito Brothers, and Byrds, but keep in mind that’s only half the story. Beachwood Sparks may consistently call upon Gram Parsons and Roger McGuinn for country-rock chord changes, electric 12-string jangle, and vocal harmonies, but they also rely as much on the spaced-out moodiness of David Roback and later Big Star for atmosphere. And on up-tempo tunes, they are liable to toss in brief spells of haphazard guitar noise that wouldn’t sound so out of place on Daydream Nation (if Lee Ranaldo used a pedal steel and a lighter touch, maybe).
Some of these less obvious influences shone through at Mercury Lounge on Sunday. The Sparks played only a handful of songs from their self-titled debut, and instead showcased a wealth of new material. Album favorites included the lazy, breezy “Canyon Ride,” with its lilting harmonies and a potentially awkward midsong key change that the band makes sound perfectly natural. On “Something I Don’t Recognize,” breathtaking dynamics added suspense to the cascading suspended chords, and when the band segued from there into an energetic cover of “Wake Up Little Susie,” it sounded honest rather than cute. Of the new songs, standouts included “Let It Run,” with its dense harmonies and a texture reminiscent of Sister Lovers, and “Quietly Be,” with ghostly pedal steel and shimmering, echoing guitar. On “You Take the Gold,” the band spliced a few bars of high-energy freakout—complete with helicopter-like organ runs—into an otherwise straightforward country-rock toe-tapper. Despite the freshness of so many of the songs, the band conveyed an assured feel throughout. Now if the Sparks can just capture some more of the mood and urgency of their live show on their forthcoming record, those who deemed their debut a little too clean, too safe, or too derivative may have to reconsider. —I-Huei Go