TOWERS OF LONDON with the STRAYS at the El Mocambo, September 23. Tickets: $10.50. Attendance: 100. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Has anyone noticed that half the seats at the El Mo are - how do I put this delicately - completely fucked?
Hey, you'd be bitter, too, if you'd spent the first five minutes of your first encounter with NME's current next-big-shits, the Towers of London (straight from England's capital), collapsing to the floor on chair after chair under the judgmental watch of the hipsterati who'd gathered to see these brats.
Lead singer Donny Tourette , wearing a tank top with "Sex" spray-painted across it in neon orange, pranced in front of a Union Jack while the remaining four members, clad in endless leather and boasting big, greasy, synthetic-looking bleached hair and heroin-chic physiques, started blasting.
Wow, it's a glam version of the Stooges dressed as Mötley Crüe, imitating the Sex Pistols doing Billy Idol covers. Is this cool? Reference + pastiche + irony + novelty + attitude + foreignness + media attention = hottest thing ever for the next 11 weeks?
Still, the Towers' level of contrivance requires serious dedication. Those hairstyles took months to grow. That puke-ugly lone skunk patch in bassist The Rev 's shag must have cost his label a fortune. And all the aesthetic and sonic reference points were even backed up by passable punk rock strength.
The UK crew provided a certain amount of flashy, trashy fun, including short songs loud enough to keep north Chinatown awake until the end and grunts, shouts, chants, curse words and shared-microphone backup parts and More Than A Feeling-esque guitar solos.
The completely incoherent Tourette put his ass into it. He Iggy Popped all over the stage, hurling his leather jacket into the crowd (his tour manager quickly ran in and picked it up), and spinning his mic while braying uncontrollably.
At one point he grabbed a girl's glasses and put them on. Shazam! He's Garth. He carefully returned the Dana Carvey shades and put on another crowd member's hat, last seen in the H&M women's department.
Shazam! OK, now he's trying too hard.
That's just it. Towers of London are five guys making a considerable effort to one-up their obvious influences with phony outrageousness.
Can't be done, blokes.