BAM Magazine, July 1, 1979

The Screamers' Tomata du Planty.
Photo: Gary Pearlson

   For the uninitiated, it should be noted that despite their name and appearance, the Screamers have little in common with your typical punk group: For that matter. they have little in common with any group.
   A Screamers show less resembles a standard rock concert than a new form of therapy. The role of the audience is to play analyst and to observe lead singer; psychotic patient Tomata du Planty as he reveals his innermost fears, desires, guilt complexes, etc. Judging by the audience readily at the Whisky, it was as much a cathartic experience for the doctor as for the patient.
   Beginning with the opening number, the audience was thoroughly captivated by du Planty as he poured forth his disturbing emotions with frightening intensity. One especially powerful moment was a duet between du Planty and his alter ego (played by a sinisterly made-up female) in which his initial frustrated cries of "I want to love" finally gave way to his screaming confession: "I want to hurt." In witnessing gut-Wrenching screams of pure id (as opposed to mere David Lee Roth rock and roll yells), the audience truly seemed to be in awe.
   One of the most compelling visual performers to come along since Iggy pop, Tomata is as much ado: as singer (he was formerly a Theater Arts student at UCLA); at the Whisky, the impact of each song was enhanced by his marvelously bizarre yet evocative facial expressions and body movements-he sort of resembles a Marcel Marceau on acid.
   Musically, the Screamers are as interesting as they are theatrical. Their usual line-up of synthesizers and drums (that's right, no guitars) was augmented this time by a baby grand and two violins (played by two non-band members). For the heavy songs (notably, "I Want to Hurt" and "Be Punished Or Be Damned"), the eerie textures of the music served to create an appropriately ominous background for the vocals. However, on several of the faster and more syncopated numbers, the music itself was more prominent and was actually rather catchy, in a DEVO-ish sort of way. Especially appealing was "vertigo,'' a fast-paced nightmarish song with a memorable "falling'' synthesizer riff adding to Tomata's dizziness.
    With their Whisky engagement, du Planty and company reinforced their standing as one of L.A.'S most important and most popular bands--it's a wonder that they're still unsigned. It's also remarkable that they are as popular as they are (selling out all six shows) considering the fact that they've never released a single record. However, with new manager Rory Johnston (formerly associated with the Sex Pistols) and as powerful a live act as ever, it seems unlikely that the Screamers will remain in the ranks of the unsigned bands for long.
-David Gillerman