Nessa and I headed over to meet Ethan at 8 and then he drove us over to his friend Rick's apartment who was going to drive to the show. Rick is a traveling computer consultant who lives the highlife - a killer yuppie apartment and a rental caddie with unlimited miles. It only makes me slightly uncomfortable.
I thought this show was actually All and Man or Astroman but turns out All played an all ages 6pm set, the Bottleneck then closed up, and reopened at 9:30pm for the grown ups. Oh well I guess I have seen All enough already, so we paid our $6 a head and entered into a mostly empty club.
The Bottleneck is pretty average all around. A few pool tables, a few video games, a decent sized bar, and a small but adequate stage. I do like the raised booths around the edge of the club so I can sit down with my plastic cup of ice water and watch the show though. Not too smokey but you still have to bathe before work the next morning.
Opening up were a motley four piece surf band from Iowa called The Delstars. From Iowa, how does such a thing happen? Surf is generally surf in my book, you know clean fender through fender with loads of reverb. However the bass was mixed a bit loud creating surf with a groove, and the vocals weren't squeaky clean Cali teen idol but more dirty white trash ala The Chickasaw Mudpuppies. I guess it was just surf with a dash of Estrus grit. The band seemed pretty comfortable controlling the crowd, and after adding in a few rehearsed dance moves, they got the crowd dancing (to an opening band!). They unfortunately played about 45 minutes which is just too long for an opening band. They have a CD out if you're interested.
Ultra Baby Fat played next. I hadn't heard of them, but based entirely on their ultra trendy clothes, my first impression was of fright. Vanessa said it all came from the Delia catalog. Ethan thought they were so trendy they were no longer trendy. I spent most of the show staring at the bass player's orange fender with gold pick guard or the guitarist's Dan Electro (the same re-issue that I play). Turns out UBF are a four piece from Atlanta fronted by 3 girls (guitar, bass, guitar) with a killer drummer boy kept in back. The band reminded me of a blend of Tuscadero (but the new album, not the perfect pop of the Pink Album) and Bikini Kill (but not quite that raw). They put on a pretty good show though and again worked the crowd well. Nessa thought they really kicked ass but didn't like the music. I thought the music was okay but I wasn't that impressed on the whole.
During the Delstars set we were told to stick around for "Chick or Astrochick" and UBF told us that up next was "Home Project Alpha - a Man or Astroman production." I guess we should have paid more attention because a little past midnight, an all female Man or Astroman took the stage in their space-come-seventies costumes. "Live satellite broadcasts" from the original astromen beamed in and explained how the band had been cloned, the chromosomes reverse and an all female Man or Astroman were born. Okay...
This didn't sit entirely well with Ethan who felt a little cheated at seeing what amounted to the world's best (and only) all female Man or Astroman tribute band. Vanessa was thrilled as seeing grrls doing it really kicks her ass. I saw things both ways. With an anonymous band like Man or Astroman it could go either way, but if I paid big money and drove big miles to see a Husker Du reunion show, only to find out I was seeing a band Husker Du sent to take their place, I would be a little upset.
However the one thing you couldn't be upset about was the show. The ladies kicked ass. Very energetic, and so much fun with all the movies, "live satellite broadcasts", and flying snack cakes [they tossed Little Debbie snack cakes to the crowd - only ones with chocolate in them I might add]. Again I was happy to see a Dan Electro reissue up there and even a DE bass that had such a lovely tone I now need one. They did play the Man or Astroman songs and I can't imagine too many folks leaving feeling like they had been duped.
Around 1:15am we poured out of the then smokey and sweaty club and headed back to Kansas City in the pimp caddie. Since I wasn't driving, and the others had taken advantage of the free snacks, we didn't stop at Dunkin' Donuts on the way out of Lawrence. This is, as you know, a crime.