Los Angeles Times, 2-27-1978

Six New Wave Bands Showcased

The first of two consecutive nights of punk rock at the Elks building in MacArthur Park succeeded last weekend in showcasing six of L.A.'s many new wave bands. A fund raiser for the Masque, a Hollywood punk cabaret, the "punk-a-thon" was attened by a festive, flamboyant crowd, much of which joined in the spirited up-and-down pogo dancing associated with the British punk scene.

In the unenviable position of opening Friday's show, the Flesh Eaters turned in a competant, if unoriginal set. The lead vocalist sings like he means it, but at this point the band leans heavily on riffs lifted from the Sex Pistols and others. The Controllers followed with a short, frentic set of tunes based primarily on themes gleaned from the headlines.

Things picked up with the Zeros, who turned in one of the evening's strongest performances. Assuming a stance similar to Elvis Costello, vocalist Hector Penalose projects a convincing mood of teen-age anxiety.

The show climaxed with the Screamers, who lived up to its strong local reputation with a well paced and often electrifying set. Tearing around the stage as though he had just burst from a straitjacket, lead singer Tomata du Planty fashions a style of techno-punk completely his own. Keyboardist Tommy Gear, an unnerving automaton with bristling white hair, delivers vocals with equal fervor. With minimal instrumental backing-two keyboards and drums-the Screamers have a unique, high-voltage persona that should take them a long way.

Following the Screamers' rousing set, the Bags managed to hold its own, a feat in itself. Vocalist Alice Bag jerked across the stage in a convulsive rage, spitting out indiscernible, shrewlike speeches that were oddly engaging. Things began to peter out with the Germs. In an unispired imitation of Iggy Pop, group leader Darby Crash tore off his shirt and dove into the audience but failed to generate much excitement. The evening closed with a sloppy set by the Skulls.

While still too primitive for most tastes, the best of these bands offer a valid, if incomsistant alternative to slick mainstream rock product. Ribert Hilburn will discuss Saturday's show on Tuesday.