Hollywood hasn’t been very good to Thelonious Monster. And the band reciprocated by becoming legendary for its in-fighting, substance abuse and the resultant fiascos, both onstage and off.
Now, with a new deal on Capitol and an aptly titled album, “Beautiful Mess,” it looks as if the Monster has been tamed, if only in the sense that it may be winning the respect that eluded the band during its long stint in the L.A. clubs and through several trouble-plagued record deals.
This industry-heavy show was preceded by a party at the Rainbow–an unlikely hangout for underground denizens–but also a signal that Capitol is behind this bunch of former ne’er-do-wells.
The band’s live show, however, still retains the punk sensibilities that make Thelonious Monster a favorite at dives such as Hollywood Boulevard club Raji’s.
Lead singer Bob Forrest is an engaging frontman. During the Roxy set, he held a garage sale, tossing out books, records and other items, and was generally chatty and amusing, seemingly thrilled by the packed house.
At times augmented by a funky horn section that made the Monster sound like a ’70s soul band instead of the literate, degenerate ’90s post-punk group it is, the set ran a tad long.
Toward the end, the already loose atmosphere turned into a three-ring circus, with Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and others joining the band on backup vocals and Circle Jerks singer Keith Morris doing an entire song with the group.
The highlights, though, were many. Of the band’s own material, the lilting but heavy “Body and Soul” sounds hit-bound, while “Blood Is Thicker Than Water,” the first single from “Beautiful Mess,” seems another winner.
On the amusing side–and Forrest is nothing if not clever–“Sammy Hagar Weekend” and “Song for a Politically Correct Girl from the Valley,” ostensibly written for Forrest’s ex gal-pal Julie Ritter of Mary’s Danish, were warmly received.