If anyone needed a reminder of how fun rock ‘n’ roll can still be, they should have been to this show at The Casbah in San Diego. The Casbah was celebrating its 25th anniversary and was hosting bands from throughout its storied history, along with the kind of acts that should keep the venue vital for another quarter of a century.
First up on an all San Diego bill were newcomers, The Phantoms. This group features Victor Penalosa, the current drummer for the Flamin’ Groovies, on guitar and vocals, and a fantastic backing band of Xavier Anaya on lead guitar, Chris Iandolo on bass and Jarrod Lucas (from The Dragons) on drums. They opened with the lead song from their self-titled debut album, “Baby Loves Her Rock and Roll”, which sounded like a revved up long-lost song by The Beat (Paul Collins’ not English). The Phantoms then charged through their 10 song set as if they were the headliners with songs like “Stab My Broken Heart”, which besides kicking ass throughout, ended with the opening riff to “Love Gun” by KISS. The set then ended with a garage rockin’ version of Bob Seger’s “Rosalie” and then an homage to the bassist for glam-rock heroes Mott The Hoople with “The Ballad of Overend Watts”. These guys seem to be channeling the late 70’s/early 80’s power pop of The Plimsouls, 20/20 and the aforementioned Beat and are definitely a band keep an eye on.
Next up were the mysterious Creepy Creeps. These garage/surf/punk rockers play in masks, with billowing smoke and green lights, go-go dancers and even a masked dude who roams through the crowd getting everyone fired up. The Creeps have been playing all around Southern California (and beyond) for several years now and have an enthusiastic following for their incendiary sets. This night was no exception as the players took turns both praising and heckling the crowd and generally fucking around for about an hour to a bunch of demented surf/punk numbers. As twisted as their set looks don’t think these guys can’t play because they can absolutely bring it. A highlight of the set was a scorching version of the Bobby Freeman classic, “Do You Wanna Dance”. If you want a taste of what a Creepy Creeps set is like check out this clip from a recent Tiki Oasis show. [Also check out their alter-ego side-band (because every group that plays in masks needs an alter-ego) Creepxotica.]
Headlining this sold out show were The Dragons. This garage/glam/punk band was a mainstay of the San Diego rock scene, along with contemporaries like Rocket from the Crypt, throughout the 90’s and early 00’s. The band, featuring Mario Escovido on guitar/vocals, Ken Horne on lead guitar, Steve Rodriguez on bass and Jarrod Lucas on drums, reunited for this show and played a ferocious set of songs from throughout their history. Highlights were the anthemic “Fade” with its chorus of “I’d rather trip than slowdown” and a scorching version of the Joan Jett classic, “Bad Reputation”. Hopefully folks will keep coming up with good reasons for this band to reunite since they are such a powerful reminder of what rock n roll is all about!