The grunge-meets-classic-rock duo Local H has returned to sardonic form on its newly released fifth album “Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles?,” an engrossing set of pointed songs that smartly examine the fleeting nature of fame and success, subject matter the group is certainly familiar with.
The Illinois-based act has also regained its live footing by trimming away the extra pieces: It’s once again touring as a two-man band — leader Scott Lucas (vocals and a custom-wired six-string plugged into both guitar and bass amplifiers) and former Triple Fast Action drummer Scott St. Clair.
Lucas still bounds around the stage like a kid alone in his bedroom playing in front of the mirror, slashing out big heavy rock riffs on his guitar while spitting lyrics of world-weary frustration. It’s this clash of attitudes — youthful enthusiasm vs. grownup reality — that makes Local H most entertaining.
Seventy-five-minute Key Club show balanced the best tracks from the new album with a fan-friendly selection of older songs, mostly from the band’s second and third albums. Lucas’ voice was ragged but effective on such new numbers as “Everyone Alive,” a smart-ass letter home, and “Money On the Dresser,” a cryptic tale of selling one’s soul that cascaded along on one of the band’s signature heavy riffs.
The near-full house was most interested in the older, more familiar songs, however, and such entries as “High-Fiving M.F.,” the finger-pointing “Eddie Vedder” and the former radio hit “Bound for the Floor” were greeted with hearty cheers and bruising mosh-pit action on the floor in front of the stage.
The encore opened with Lucas dedicating the Ramones’ “I Just Wanna Have Something to Do” to “our hero,” actress P.J. Soles (“Rock ‘n’ Roll High School,” “Stripes”), who was in attendance with her daughters and sporting an old Ramones T-shirt. Curtain call also included Local H’s latest single “California Songs,” a scathing rejection of the L.A. lifestyle as seen through angry Midwestern eyes.