Reggie's is a fairly new South side rock venue with excellent sound hosting a wide array of bands thus drawing crowds as diverse as teenage punksters to 35 year old yupsters. Juliette Lewis is mainly known for her celebrated acting career. You might remember her in such classics as Kalifornia, Christmas Vacation, The Other Sister, and of course her Oscar nominated turn in Cape Fear at the tender age of 18. Juliette has put her acting career on hiatus to focus on her four-year old band, the Licks. With Juliette at the helm and local based rock band Suffrajett and San Fransisco indie group Scissors for Lefty opening, it all made for quite an impressionable evening with a lot of clothing being removed onstage and a wet beer fight offstage.
A plethora of actors have started bands (Jared Leto, Keanu Reeves and Russell Crowe) but most of them pretty much suck. Juliette and The Licks has only raised the bar slightly higher. Their music is mediocre at best, personal rock music about boys and life, but Ms. Lewis somehow pulls it off, becoming the epicenter of room. Sure, she's famous and everything and maybe no one would even give a shit about her band if she was just some other chick, but when she's onstage and performing, she seems possessed, like she's channeling a caricature of Cher or something, allowing another creature to inhabit her body. She is a born actress, after all. Juliette comes out wearing a red, nylon getup with tight pants accentuating her figure, a matching red jacket with LAFD imprinted on the back, a headpiece with a feather sticking out, glitter eyeliner, and a partial leotard covering up only her belly button. She's in the zone. The band opens with "Smash and Grab" from their current album Four on the Floor. She parades around stage, cursing, bouncing up and down, contorting her limber bod. She interacts with the audience a lot shaking hands and kissing female fans on the cheeks. Her intensity and passion is palatable as no one can take their eyes of her.
She's a loose cannon and it makes everyone wonder what stunt she'll do next. She talks to the audience asking: "Who's here for the first time? We're gonna whip you into shape." She takes off her jacket revealing more flesh and goes into "America Boy". They play a slower song, "I Never Got to Tell You What I Wanted To" that she says she wrote for a friend who died at 26. Even in the slower mode, she's all histrionics. She follows it up with shouting out, "We're here to entertain you" and rolls around onstage. Mid set a fight breaks out between two girls in the crowd. They are trying to kick the shit of each other, cursing, and throwing Bud Light tall boys at one another. Needless to say, they are separated but not before some spectators get doused in beer. Juliette ignores the altercation singing about drunken fools. How apropos. Drunken frat boys keep yelling out, "I loved you in Cape Fear!" which is sorta comical. Even in the spotlight she can't escape her past. Near the end of the set she lets her guard down a bit and finally talks like a normal person. She coerces the audience to shake their hips, their tits or lick their lips demonstrating more of her sexual prowess. An audience member throws a t-shirt at her, she takes it, wipes her sweat off with it and throws it back. What a badass. She discusses how the band has been her dream, how they've been through three drummers so far, and how appreciative she is for everyone coming out. Her crazy eyes soften. They go into "Get Up," the story of the Licks, she says. It's rambunctious and she prods audience to scream louder. For the encore, Juliette and Simi from Suffrajett join onstage for a cover of "Hot Stuff," dueling hot babes performing together each wearing strange outfits. Juliette removes her crop top wearing only her half leotard and pants. The final song turns into a tribal drum thing as Juliette starts hitting on the drums and dancing around. Finally, an hour and a half later, it's over.
Suffrajett was the second band to play. Akin to Juliette, lead singer Simi is another strong, female front woman who also likes to wear exercise gear (ie: tights, leotard). She is just as fierce and frightening, but in a less demonic way as her counterpart. Suffrajett is a rock band in the purist sense and come out with chainsawing guitars, pounding drums, and Simi's hard vocals. Black Glitter is their latest garage rock record with songs about jilted love. Simi struts around singing about "taking my sorry tears." She has an energy that lights up the stage which the audience responds to. On "Like You Better," Simi channels Joan Jett's grit, and on "Closer" she breaks out a broken violin and strums it creating a disharmonious sound. "Mr. Man" is a highlight where she plays tambourine, reaches out to the audience, and keeps repeated the name of the group so people won't forget. She rolls around on stage. On the penultimate song, the band lets loose as Simi pinatas the violin completely smashing the already warped instrument. They continue to repeat the name of the band for the 10th time ("We're Suffrajett by the way) and give shout outs to their touring bands. Lots of love is felt.
Download: Suffrajette - "Love Me More"
Quintet Scissors for Lefty is an amalgam of Franz Ferdinand disco, The Bravery's falsetto, and British Sea Power inflection. The band is composed of two sets of brothers with the handsome Bryan Garza taking lead. Onstage, they are dressed in jeans, striped shirts and hoodies and look like any other band. But once they begin playing, the fun begins. "Lay Down Your Weapons" is their opening song from their latest record, the sophomore Underhanded Romance. Garza does a sort of intermittent Wolf Parade yelping along to the poppish melodies. They play the jangly "Next to Argyle" and emphasize lyrics "I can't wait to fall in love with you, baby." Garza removes the hoodie he's wearing and exudes playful sexual energy with the way he says certain words and moves onstage. With the next song, he croons to the audience then plays keys while the guitarist flaunts his stuff. Garza then jumps off stage to dance and sings directly to some female audience members. He sings about being a toy to be used. Next, they perform probably their most popular song, "Ghetto Ways" that rocks. Right before the guys play their final song, "Mama Your Boys Will Find a Home," Garza and a couple of other band mates take off their shirts. Garza jokingly places a bandage on one of his nipples. He reveals part of his skivvies and begins dancing around stage in bursts of spasms. Their idea of sexy seems to be taking their shirts off and well, they have decent bodies to show for it. Garza multi-tasks singing into a mic and vocoder. They all seem to have a lot of fun frolicking on stage, singing their nonsensical lyrics while smiling and giggling. If only their set was a little longer, maybe more shenanigans would've occurred.
Download: "Scissors for Left - Down Your Weapons"