The Slits were punk in more ways than one. Oh sure, they certainly sounded punk when they first emerged, one of the dozens of bands that germinated in the UK in the wake of the Sex Pistols and the Clash. But eventually, their raw, rugged thrash streamlined into something far more interesting: a raw, rugged version of dub reggae. Sounding nothing like any of the other bands screaming, scratching and spitting around London at the time, the quartet won a dedicated following of influential scenesters. Just as an example of how good they were, even Johnny Rotten was a fan. What’s more, the entire band was female. At a time when punk promised to tear down rock’s gender walls, there still wasn’t a whole lot of all-girl bands out there. The Slits broke through, and with their recent reunion are proving to defy the rules of popular music. They play the House of Blues in Anaheim on July 31.
~WORTH THE DRIVE~
Har Mar Superstar Sean Tillmann isn’t your average sex symbol, but he may just be one of the world’s few “everyman” sex symbols. Overweight and balding, with a striking physical similarity to Ron Jeremy (minus the ‘stache), the performer better known as Har Mar Superstar serenades audiences with his seductive electroclash-R&B often while clad in little more than tight, form-fitting briefs. Sound appealing? OK, probably not. But, oddly, it is. Tillmann has been embraced by all sorts of rock tastemakers, most notably the Strokes, and the historically fickle UK press adores him — mostly because he is willing to lay it all on the line live, but also because he is, strange as it may seem, a man of serious musical abilities. While his stage show is friggin’ hilarious, make no mistake: Har Mar is the real deal. Find out for yourself at the Viper Room in Hollywood on July 19.
~WORTH THE DRIVE~
Os Mutantes Even back in the weirdo ’60s, few groups were as weird as Os Mutantes. And certainly, there were no bigger weirdos making such beautiful, fun music as them. Born in São Paulo, Brazil, the band helped usher in the revolutionary tropicalismo movement, experimenting with a hybrid of pop, psychedelia, musique concrète and the traditional forms of their homeland. Beginning originally as a backing band for fellow experimentalist Caetano Veloso, Os Mutantes (translation: the Mutants) eventually broke out on their own, and while their wild sound proved too far out for mainstream consumption in Brazil and elsewhere, the group became cult legends for their crazed adventurousness and nutty, multimedia live shows. After disbanding in 1974, their legend only grew. Kurt Cobain tried to organize a reunion show in 1993, to no avail. Had he known the band would eventually get back together for a string of shows beginning in 2006, maybe he would have thought twice about blowing his brains out. OK, that’s probably stretching it a little bit. Regardless, the band’s reformation has been met with ecstatic praise from those who have seen them so far, and now, Los Angeles gets another chance, as Os Mutantes perform at the El Rey Theater on July 15.
~ WORTH THE DRIVE ~
Hootenanny 2007 Since 1995, the Hootenanny has been Southern California’s biggest greaser gathering, a celebrating of classic cars, pompadours, cuffed jeans and, of course, blazing, old school rock’n’roll. What Warped is to punks and Bonnaroo to hippies, the Hoot is to rockabilly fiends. Past headliners have included legends such as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, the Stray Cats and Joe Strummer, and newer icons like the Reverend Horton Heat have made the event their home. This year, the lineup is no less stellar: on top is L.A. institution and Hootenanny main stage staples Social Distortion, joined by resurgent ’50s revivalists the Squirrel Nut Zippers (pictured) and Danish psychobilly freaks Nekromantix. The bottom half is just as impressive, with Dave Alvin, Mojo Nixon, Lee Rocker, the Blasters, John Doe of X and the Supersuckers contributing to the madness. The smell of Pomade and gas fumes will fill the air above the Oak Canyon Ranch in Irvine on July 7.