A band as bizarre, diverse and complicated as Sleepytime Gorilla Museum couldn't be expected to travel in any normal vehicle. So it's only proper that once the band pulls up to New York's Bowery Ballroom, the usually stoic NYC passersby stop, point and stare. These are pedestrians who don't blink when they see Gene Simmons selling hot dogs on the street. Those who check out STG's show Friday at Walter's will understand why.
The West Coast is home to the Green Tortoise bus line, a hippie Greyhound sort of operation that stops for cookouts instead of fast food and can take passengers down past Mexico or up into Alaska. Four years ago, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum purchased one of their decommissioned buses, one that had put in decades of service to Costa Rica and back. It's large, green, old and awesome.
"That's the coolest fucking bus in the history of buses!" an Asian hipster dude in a pink shirt confirms as he passes.
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum
With the Invincible Czars and I Am Mesmer, 8 p.m. Friday, May 1, at Walter's on Washington, 4215Washington, 713-862-2513, www.superunison.com.
Besides, it wouldn't be like Sleepytime Gorilla Museum to tour in something as blasé as a van. Conceived in 1999, the Oakland-based band has built a following around its intricate and often jarring mix of experimental rock and theatrical stage presence. With the band decked out in full costumes and makeup and playing an assortment of homemade instruments, the stage show is as much a visual spectacle as it is an auditory cluster bomb: Mr. Bungle with a sense of style.
In contrast to the chaotic atmosphere onstage, the bus remains comparatively serene. It's a family affair, as bassist Dan Rathbun and his wife, Nieves (who sells homemade skin-care products at the band's merch table), have brought along their three-month-old son, Jasper. Violinist and vocalist Carla Kihlstedt is expecting her own child soon, courtesy of her boyfriend, SGM drummer Matthias Bossi.
"I don't know anyone who is bummed out about having babies on the bus," says singer/guitarist Nils Frykdahl, who until recently also had his five-month-old daughter in tow. "Even the people who aren't interested in babies. It lifts everyone's spirits and gives people something to do."
Little Jasper promptly pukes.
Even by Beyoncé's standards, last week the world's most famous Houstonian had a hard time staying out of the headlines. Last Tuesday on his Sirius/XM radio show, Howard Stern played a clip alleged to be the raw feed of the singer's performance of "If I Were a Boy" from the Today Show last November. The extremely off-key recording turned out to be a not-too-carefully doctored hoax, and Beyoncé called the whole thing "ridiculous," while her father and manager, Mathew Knowles, said, "That would be like saying Kobe Bryant couldn't make a jump shot."
In other Sasha Fierce news, the homecoming show of B's I Am... tour will be July 4 at Toyota Center, her new thriller Obsessed opened at No. 1 at the box office with $28.5 million and 100 British women did the "Single Ladies" Dance in London's Piccadilly Circus to promote Beyoncé's free concert in the UK capital this November. Check it out on YouTube (search "Single Ladies Piccadilly Circus"), and stay for the brilliant mash-up of "Single Ladies" and The Andy Griffith Show theme song.
3710 Main, 713-533-9525
1. Chicha Libre, Sonido Amazonico
2. Tito & Tarantula, Back Into the Darkness
3. Balkan Beat Box LPs
4. The Sophisticated Misfit DVD
5. Jesus Lizard, 7" set
6. Various Artists, Studio One Rude Boy LP
7. Various Artists, School Me vol. 1: 1968-1975
8. John Doe and the Sadies, Country Club
9. Clouseaux, Beyond Good & Evil
10. Chicha Libre/Dengue Fever split 7"
Moon Tower Radio
KPFT (90.1 FM), 3-5 p.m. Fridays
Selections from DJ Carlos' April 17 playlist
1. Pink Floyd, "Sheep"
2. Silver Apples, "Oscillations"
3. New York Dolls, "Chatterbox"
4. Kinks, "Moving Pictures"
5. Judas Priest, "Rock Hard Ride Free"
6. Social Distortion, "Hour of Darkness"
7. Blue Öyster Cult, "The Marshall Plan"
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8. Elvis Costello, "What Do I Do Now?"
9. Faith No More, "Surprise, You're Dead"
10. Iggy Pop, "Dum Dum Boys"
(lists compiled by Chris Gray)