Pork Tornado, Roxy Theater, West Hollywood- 11/3
A Pork Tornado rips through Hollywood
Halloween weekend was a busy affair in LaLa land with The String Cheese Incident, The Strokes and Pork Tornado performing on consecutive days. Even Perry Farrell would have a hard time spending three days differently in Los Angeles. Lecture me later about not following the SCI circus to Vegas, but that can be a dangerous drive if you have bills to pay, and Roctober was a hell of a month for live music. With New Year's just around the corner, the belt needs to be tightened. Sacrifices have to be made. The Strokes was a lingering curiosity. I had to do it. I hated Last Night when I first heard it, decrying the song as a blatant rip off of Tom Petty's American Girl. However, I've grown to realize that it is better for updated classic rock to be popular among the high school / college crowd instead of say, N'Sync or Puff Daddy. I had a great time at the show, but it made me appreciate quality musicianship over style even more.
Which brings us to the main course, Pork Tornado. Knowing that I was going to see a bar band from Vermont on the Sunset Strip, I wasn't wearing my journalist hat. For the other Phish side projects, from Oysterhead to Vida Blue, a night of new and creative music was expected. For Pork Tornado, I just wanted to have a good time.
There are a few essential elements to a good bar band. High energy, classic cover songs and good musicianship. Pork Tornado does all this and got the crowd jumping early and long into the night with two sets and an encore of booty shaking rock 'n roll. In addition to Fish, the band is comprised of guitarist Dan Archer, saxophonist Joe Moore, bassist Aaron Hersey and keyboardist Phil Abair. Everyone sings well, and they have complete command of their instruments. It's obvious they've done this for years. In addition to the group's originals, Pork Tornado offered a slew of cover songs, ranging from The Slicker's (Johnny Too Bad) to several songs by Frank Zappa. I'm horrible with Zappa names, and the aging hippie next to me wasn't too sure either, but I bet they are on the new Rykodisc compilation, Zappa Picks by Jon Fishman.
Fishman's stage banter hlepd to make the intimate night a blast. Before the last song of the first set, he said that the band was going to take a quick break and then come back and play Kiss My Black Ass for 45 minutes. He also mentioned that CD's were available over at the merch table (when was the last time Fishman had to say that?) and that they featured artwork censored by Elektra. I guess that it was fine for Metallica to have actual blood and semen on the cover of Load a few years back, but a picture of a little gummy piggy with gummy stuff coming out of its bum is off limits.
Many people are predominately distracted by the movies in Los Angeles, a fact not lost on Pork Tornado as the band performed a killer 'Quentin Tarantino movie' trilogy of songs throughout the night; Hooked on a Feeling (From Reservoir Dogs by Blue Swede) Stuck in the Middle With You (From Reservoir Dogs by Stealers Wheel) and Jungle Boogie (From Pulp Fiction by Kool & the Gang). Pork Tornado's originals were good too; Archer's vocals on Guabi Guabi were particularly nice as was Moore's energy during Kiss My Black Ass, which featured a strip tease that showed off nearly all of Moore's 'equipment.'
Watching Fishman within spitting distance, flailing away at his drums, each limb moving independently at hyper drive, is something I've had the pleasure of enjoying two other times since fall 2000, first with the Jacque Imo All Stars at JazzFest and then with the Jazz Mandolin Project at the HOB on the Sunset strip. Despite the other nights being amazing, Pork Tornado was the most fun.