FROM THE STREET (Clash of the Cover Bands)


Decked out in flight suits, Sarge and the Aeromen played a swing dance version of "Rock the Casbah." The song was kosher, but I was a little disappointed the bassist didn't smash his stand-up bass to one-up the other acts.


The crowd was just as strange a mix as the performers, ranging from punks in training, complete with bright new Clash shirts, to hip moms holding babies like accessories. I spoke to one mom whose infant wore a "London Underground" beanie.


"You can't stop going out just because you have a kid," she said. "Otherwise you'll find yourself at home singing Nickelodeon songs."


For me, Johnny Zoom Cheerlead Squad did the best musical imitation of The Clash, but this only begs the question: Was The Clash's appeal about its unrefined sound or subversive attitude. If the latter is true, then The Super Secret Best Friends should have won the award for the most rebellious, at least for a punk rock show. They played in matching pink dresses with sequins glittered across their chests, and pink boas.


"I don't think Joe Strummer would have liked us," singer Stephanie Hayes announced as she tapped her keytar and drowned a Clash song in their brand of gossip-rock.


Strummer might not have liked the Friend's cover, but I bet he'd have invited them backstage.  


I tried getting backstage to talk to the Friends on just my looks, but the tall sweaty bouncer named Tim wasn't impressed.


"The pizza man doesn't need a wrist band," Tim explained in his British accent as the delivery dude strolled passed, unmolested.


I finally snuck backstage, drafting a wily videographer named Shane. I was surprised by how much more eager women were to talk to me with a camera in tow, especially drunk women looking to make-out on film. Throw a few boxes of pizza and a delivery boy in the mix, and you've got the fixing for some first-class erotic journalism, or at least an '80s porno.


E-mail Alfie at [email protected]


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"Creative Loafing needs a sexual predator writing for them," advised Nate Oliver of Have Gun Will Travel when he found me talking to his lady friend. "That could be your hook, Alfie."

"Thanks," I said, "but that's basically what I already do."

We were backstage at Skipper's Smokehouse for WMNF's "This is Radio Clash: a Tribute to The Clash." Nate was jealous of my ability to talk to tons of hot women each night under the guise of investigative journalism, while his only pick-up line was, "Hey, I'm in a rock 'n' roll band" — as if women ever fell for sweaty musicians. Besides, Skipper's was teeming with over 17 bands' worth of musicians but only one erotic journalist.

 

The event was a success for the same reason that WMNF is the premier community-funded volunteer radio in the country: There's strength in numbers and diversity. With 17 bands playing 15 minute sets, I expected the show to run late, but the volunteer staffers kept things moving with as much efficiency as they run their radio station.

"This is as close to country as The Clash comes," announced the Urbane Cowboys, setting the stage for their clap-along rendition of "I Fought the Law." However, when Blind Buddy Moody took the stage after the Urbane Cowboys, he proved it could get a little more country. He sat in a straw hat and a denim tuxedo strumming his acoustic and blowing his harmonica. He howled Clash covers like Irish ballads with a deep, bottom-of-the-barrel voice and just enough teeth to prove he'd taken some hits in his life and was still swinging. I hadn't expected an old-time country singer to cover a Clash song and probably neither did The Clash, but I should have suspected it considering WMNF's eclectic mix. I may not always keep my radio tuned to WMNF, but I always check the station to see what wild stuff they're playing. 

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