Photo by MARY LYNN DOMINGUEZ
I arrived at Johnny Brenda’s to meet my blind date — the three-band triumvirate of Jack White’s ‘Third Man’ record label’s Audio Social Dissent Tour. I guess all I had to go on as far as looks and personality is that Jack White is all about and a promise of ‘revolutionary punk rock.’ ??It sort of made sense to me when the first band, Regression 696 took the stage. A dudely duo took the stage behind a guitar and a music stand fitted with a board of switches, and a harmonica. The harmonica was a nice touch in our current dudes-with-electronic-instruments era of music, but the sound wasn’t half as nice. They played a 30-minute set of indistinguishable, sometimes painful noise. The 10 or so people in the crowd moved to some beat that must have been beyond my range of hearing. It was all a good reminder to pick up earplugs for the future, but for now, the damage was already done.
The next band, Video gave me hope for a more palatable sound. That was, until the singer, with slicked-back Arctic Monkey man hair, knelt down onstage in front of the microphone to suit up in black fingerless leather gloves and his fringiest leather jacket. He spent the next 30 minutes scream-singing into the microphone, crawling around the stage and power-pointing— this is likely what created a lonely 8-foot radius no man’s land around the stage. I would’ve rather seen any pop punk band from 2006 reunite than whatever this dude was trying to Heimlich Maneuver out of himself. As if the music weren’t bad enough, in between songs, the lead singer said things like “You don’t deserve us… You don’t deserve the best in the business… I hope you all enjoy reveling at the greatest performance you’ve ever seen. Lucky you.” A huge ego was totally not punk, and luckily none of the audience was receptive to it. I considered jumping off the balcony head-first in that moment, but I had a show to review and one more band to check out on the lineup.
Timmy’s Organism was fronted by a cool-dad-looking man, complete with a comb over mullet, three-quarter-sleeved bell shirt and a decked-out denim vest. To my surprise, they didn’t totally suck. And it seems the frontman was socialized enough to kindly ask the audience to step up— a necessary gesture that pretty much took down the awkwardness to about a 4. They played through a set of amped-up, powery, punkish ballads that I didn’t hate— and they were pretty great at shredding on their instruments. If he were my dad, I’d be more slightly more proud than embarrassed instead of the other way around. — MARY LYNN DOMINGUEZ