The Centimeters with Fresh Meat at Lava, August 18. Tickets: $5. Attendance: 70. Rating: NNNN
Toward the end of the centi-meters gig at the Lava Lounge Sunday, a friend of mine leaned in and asked, "How are you going to describe this?" As the crowd was a small one and comparisons are oft wont to be made among us self-fancied music aficionados, conversation swarmed around the topic.
"This is like Sleater Kinney doing Velvet Underground covers," observed Brad the bartender.
"It sounds like the gothic Moldy Peaches," came another voice.
"Reminds me of Lene Lovich," offered another.
"I like it when they venture into Gary Numan territory," noted someone else.
Sure, yes, definitely. All of it.
Locals Fresh Meat started the show with a set of glamour punk, riding the three-chord carousel with a hot (so she kept reminding us) frontwoman.
Tina Gravelson could back off the mike once in a while or tone it down, but otherwise it was a surprisingly tight set, considering this was only their second show ever.
L.A.'s Centimeters came onstage all wearing Wednesday Addams faces and launched into a psychedelic, arty, theatrical phantasmagoria with screeching yet obviously highly talented vocals. The Velvet Underground springs to mind not just because of their sound but also because of Nora V. Keyes's theatrical, brooding poses -- offset, however, by her jerky go-go/zombie dancing.
Set list side instructions might have read: insert spooky carnival music here, add a punk rock riff there, dive into the 80s, scream like Nina Hagen, pose theatrically, pout, pout some more. The B52s spring to mind. So does Anne Clark. Go figure.
The Centimeters are definitely an original amalgamation unlike anything else out there, and their utter lack of stage presence is a presence in itself. You may find the lifeless, bored, attitude-ridden posturing confusing, and after a while annoying, but when it becomes clear that not one of the quartet is going to crack a smile any time soon, you realize this is the only way this music could be presented.
This band screams "cult following."