By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
First, I couldn't get anyone to go to the show with me. "Who
are the Plimsouls?'' my poor friends would ask. I could feel age
advancing upon me like a Monkees fan. Then I arrived at Ikon and
greeted Davit Souders, the club's owner. He said, "You'll feel
young when you get inside. Three kids came in and asked for their
money back because they said the crowd was too old.''
Indeed, I was a pup among dewey-eyed fellow geeks stuck
somewhere between the uplifting label of boomers and the targeting
label of Generation X. Some of them had brought their kids, and all
of them restrained themselves from dancing.
The Plimsouls are relics from that brief period in music
history when pop and rock merged quite fluidly. Now 15 years after
their original heyday, they held the Ikon stage on Monday night
with all the presence of ROCK STARS — flashy, brash,
hard-worn purveyors of the teen beat.
Nobody in this quartet is pin-up material (when they make the
film, Eric Stolz will gain several pounds and play lead singer
Peter Case), but they rock in the purest sense. They're not out to
change the world, they're not willing to sell their grandmothers to
be the next big thing and they have a freakin' ball.
Case has one of the most unpleasant, scratchy voices in rock
'n' roll, and he uses it to an incredibly appealing effect. Without
the sniggering attitude of a young Paul Westerburg, Case leads his
band through music perfectly balanced between the jangle of the
Byrds and the serrated stab of Blondie. It was around bands like
the Plimsouls, the dBs and early Joe Jackson that the term "power
pop'' was born. This is pop — unselfconscious, unpretentious songs
about bad luck and getting even and missing your other half --
charged with the desperation and kick of serious rock 'n' roll.
As the band charged through its lengthy set (rarely stopping
for more than a breath between songs), the guitarist cycled through
about eight different guitars while drummer Clem Burke — of
Blondie fame — reminded us how cool drummers can be. n occasional
offbeats, he would raise a drumstick high in the air, his eyes
following it, then drop it with a crash and a wince. He wore a
D.A.R.E. T-shirt. (When they make the film, Dana Carvey will have
This was no nostalgia show, either. As Case sang, "Time goes
by so fast / I don't want to live in the past.'' The set included
the standards (yes, they played "A Million Miles Away'') plus a
Who cover and several new songs, "Playing With Jack'' and "(Too
Much) Satisfaction,'' which are just as hot as the originals, maybe
Another band of power popsters from the L.A. scene opened
the show, 20/20. These three guys are Tulsa natives, though this
was their first Tulsa show. The group's two founding members came
back together last year to make another album with Bill Belknap,
owner of Long Branch Studios. Now the three kick around the country
playing infrequent gigs, wherever they find a festival or an
audience of new wave nostalgists.
Despite that occasional playing schedule, this trio is
amazingly tight. Guitarist Steve Allen worked a lot of sound out of
his lone guitar, and Belknap pounds the drums with shocking
Ron Flynt, the gangly bassist, loped around the Ikon stage
flashing his curious expressions of bliss and confusion. His songs
of tarnished innocence and childlike reconciliation reflect his
visage, from the set opener "Song of the Universe'' through 20/20
classics like "Remember the Lightning,'' "Nuclear Boy'' and
I'm no old coot, but somehow I become Grumpy Old Man when
talking about my new wave heroes. Those three kids should have
stuck around. This "old'' music feels so much younger.
Comments are closed.
These online "clips" reproduce a self-selection of my journalism (music etc) during the last 20+ years. It's a lotta stuff, but it only scratches the surface. I do not currently possess the time or resources to digitize the whole body of work. These posts are simply a bunch of pretty great days at the office.