THE TIJUANA BIBLES and SOUTHERN CULTURE ON THE SKIDS at the Horseshoe, July 6. Tickets: $15. Attendance: 350. Rating: NNN
ever seen those old hanna-bar-bera cartoons from the 60s where they'd recycle frames to save cash? There'd be an episode of the Jetsons, say, in which Judy checked out some hip joint where a groovy band was playing. To establish the swingin' mood, the animators would show the same sequence three times of mod teenagers doing the frug and the wwim, intercut with MTV-worthy views of the dreamboats onstage, all set to shagadelic tunes.That pretty much describes the scene at the Horseshoe Saturday night during the Tijuana Bibles' spectacular set. Everywhere I turned, I saw the same tipsy hipsters hoppin' and boppin' to the local superheroes' stoneresque surf numbers with garage snarl.
Frontman The Crippler was in fine form, suited up in a Thundercats mask and red satin robe. He was supported by sexy sax babe La Felina Negra (also in a cutesy cat mask), "European wrestling champ" the Blue Demon, Captain America look-alike Sonny Boy Liston and drummer Buddy Lee Roth, a military nightmare in his pith-helmet-gas-mask combo. The Crippler led his merry band through an entertaining set, highlighted by the one-two monkey punch of the go-goish Gorilla Stomp followed by The Chimp Twist and an awesome, bleached-out cover of Blondie's Atomic.
By the time rockabilly goofs Southern Culture on the Skids took the stage around midnight, the entire joint smelled like soul food. Blame the giant bucket of KFC they brought onstage and served up to some finger-lickin' ladies from the crowd who flailed around with the band in classic Hanna-Barbera fashion.
Singer-bassist Mary Huff, sporting a sassy cotton-candy-pink beehive wig, belted hillbilly foot-stompers and country blues tunes through a reverb-heavy mike, like Debbie Harry brought up on a solid diet of Hee-Haw. She harmonized prettily with guitarist Rick Miller's raspy world-weary growl.
They're a great live band, and their sound makes the most of echoing bass, effects-heavy wavering guitars, saloon pianos and psychedelic organs.
But, like the Squirrel Nut Zippers, there's a little too much novelty in their retro novelty act. Sure, their tunes are great -- country-fried frat-friendly hillbilly blues songs soaked in surf -- and they can sure put on a fun show. But in the end you get the sense that it's more about the concept than the music. I wish they'd learn to embrace the full potential of their cartoonish selves. Hell, it works for the Tijuana Bibles. email@example.com