Thelonious Monster at Spaceland

Thelonious Monster at Spaceland

Yes, driving to Sawtelle does take some time, but I love living in Silver Lake. Besides enjoying the fixed-up reservoir and brand-new library and walking to the bank and Trader Joe's (as well as being almost right between my parents' place and the in-laws), sitting 5 minutes from Spaceland or the Echo isn't bad, either. I can call either venue, find out when a band I want to see goes on, leave 15 minutes before that, and be back home and in bed in less than 90 minutes. That's faster than most people's trips to the gym or a movie. Often, cheaper, too. Last night, I bust out from deadline mode to see Thelonious Monster.

It's been a while since I've mentioned the band in the blog, so I'll do my best to describe them once more. The often-changing lineup used to play around L.A. a lot in the late '80s when I was a student at UCLA, and kind of served as a missing link between early L.A. punk and “college rock.” The band included Dix Denney from The Weirdos and Zander Schloss from The Circle Jerks and was produced by John Doe from X, but really its focus has always been on singer Bob Forrest and his highly confessional, shockingly melodic lyrics. He is noted for writing literate songs detailing his problems with drugs, love, and family, but I've always liked the songs about Los Angeles, from race to economics to architecture. He actually shared an anecdote about frequenting the bar when it was still called Dreams, describing it as “heterosexually challenged” and recalling how he used to sell meth to customers.

Forrest always gives great banter, especially shit-talking with Schloss, but last night's show was a lot tighter than usual. It came on the heels of the band playing a fairly big benefit with Rancid and the Adolescents, and it seemed as if they actually rehearsed. They blazed through a lot of older, more blues-based stuff, and sounded really heavy. Even the fucking around seemed solid. After Forrest cited his self-destructive tendencies and how he has the names of his favorite bands, “The Clash” and “The Beatles,” tattooed onto either wrist so he won't slit them, the group started a blistering version of “White Riot” before cutting it off just as quickly. After a super hard version of their traditional closer, “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean,” they orchestrated two more covers to try to derail the set and almost succeeded… but not quite.

The show was completely different from the last time I saw them at The Echo–a gig with a lot of Stones covers, misfires, and trash talk. That evening was awesome, too, but for totally unrelated reasons. Instead of bringing up The Replacements or Van Halen, I'll say that for me seeing a totally tight set or one in total shambles by Thelonious Monster is like seeing the Dodgers win by a walk-off or through an opposing player's error. Either way, I walk away totally satisfied with a smile on my face.

I don't think the band plays often, except for shows now and then in L.A., but you can check out more Thelonious Monster-related stuff here and here.