The Smears

The Smears / A Pretty Mess
Redwood Bar and Beyond
Los Angeles
By Lucky (SugarBuzz Hollywood)
Photography by Bill General (Silverlake Lounge and Scotland Yard)
Photography by Lucky (The Vu)

“Everything in this day and age has gone Bizarro-World. It’s all backwards, upside down. How fucked up is it that L.A. has a better punk rock scene than NYC???” – Geordie Pleathur

An amazing quote from an amazing man. Although some may disagree, I can only attest to the happenings akin to Los Angeles. Yes, there is an energized punk rock scene going down. Yes it is super fucking great. The excitement, camaraderie and quality are reminiscent of the early days of LA punk, say 77-80. You Shugsters that have been around the block a few times know what I am talking about, the era right before going to a punk rock show included death as an option. Currently, there is a whole bunch of amazing groups that are not to be missed, incredible line ups where every band on the bill just kills.  Aggressive promoters that drive the scene and some really out of the way places to get close and personal. Sans the Viper Room, to get the jist, I venture off the beaten path.

And word is getting out. Other amazing acts are heading west for limited engagements, seeing for themselves, booking some shows and applying their wares. These rapid-fire tours hit you broadsided and then they are gone. You better be on it or you’ll fucking miss out. Prime example, the blitzkrieg week long assault of The Smears.

The Smears, hailing from the UK, have teamed up with LA punkers A Pretty Mess for five madhouse shows, and then, they are taking A Pretty Mess back home for more double headers.  I caught the first of five, live at The Redwood.

We literally walked in the fucking front door as The Smears were taking the stage. This allowed for a quick run to get as close as possible to the blast. You see, The Redwood has this small stage area and between sets people tend to congregate in the long stretch that is the bar. You got to be there, but take my word, once the music starts, it is a mass migration.

Chaos reigned supreme from the get go as The Smears welcomed us to the “Freekshow”.  Perhaps to the band this song is an image of self, but to us it is an anthem, an outcast anthem, and a strong statement that we are what we are and will not go quietly into the night. Thunderous bottom quake signaled as Maimee V. beckoned us to be part of. Commotion consumed the frontal reaches of the stage and The Smears hankered down ready.

A rip snort startup “Halloween” came crashing on the unsuspected. The tightly packed spectators unleashed the hidden, and I damn near lost an eye to a flailing plastic sword. In the madcap, I took chance to reflect on the meaning of the portrayed, which in my humble interpretation is a calling out of disguise, recognition of hiding behind the mask. “It smells like Halloween” perhaps a metaphor or is it just burnt pumpkin and candy? Either way kick ass. (At The Vu show Maimee V. responded to a crowd query of what does Halloween smell like. Although I can’t provide a verbatim, I think I was kinda right on, just kinda.)

The tumultuous onset of “Deliverance” packed wallop spurred by pounding purge of C Doll’s deft drive. This gal doesn’t break sweat, all the while ferocious, crackerjack. Soothing backup oh and ah from Miss C contrast Maimee V’s dark imagery. Did she really say “Squeal like a pig boy!!??!!” I was afraid.

“Gluttony”, truly a case of covet thy obsessions’ goods, beget the bash as things turned tricky amongst the riotous revelers. Tempted to back away, I held firm. The swirling guitar crunch infused the synapse as a lyrical barrage hit unrelenting. Miss C’s pluck and slap is a site to see, flawless fury accentuate notation.

The Smears came in for the kill with “Prowling Hyenas”. No reprieve from square one, this ninety second plummeting is a drop without a chute. Adrenalin rush supreme. I really didn’t know what hit us as the song came and went in such a feverous pace I stood stunned.

The fitful foray intro of “Pink Pop” caused some to spastic herky-jerk while others emulated statuesque. Maimee V. looked about, directing verbiage to each and all, then to instrument for precession. Miss C’s almost nonchalant expression fooled, all the while taking in the surroundings upmost aware.

Influences stood strong I guess, as The Smears gave “Rise of the Liars” a Sex Pistols vibe, albeit one with a more hardcore pomp and circumstance. Like Swiss clockwork, C Doll hit hard, on the mark, mobilizing mayhem. The crowd started to shift and I with it, mostly to avoid Gigantor whom decided to hover above. Fuck dude, you’re blocking my view. I found better vantage.

The Smears then launched yet another bombastic barrage that I absolutely loved in the form of “Scrape Patrol”. Quicker than a drive-by, it came and went. Hey what the fuck was that? Bring it back here! The beginning of this song is sans distortion and the clarity of Maimee V’s guitar triggered me to think that a technical glitz was underway, alas I was mistaken.

The Richter scales were set off in grand style as the earth shattering “Wrath” commenced absolute carnage. The hard hitting melee with a militaristic midway was a showcase for C Doll’s drumming abilities. Take note percussionists worldwide. Maimee V. encouraged standing at attention and saluting at the apex and some complied.  I didn’t quite get it, but my solider certainly did. A-ten-hut!!

I instantly recognized “Handcuffs and Powder Puffs” thanks in part to the video of said song floating around the internet. A slaughterhouse of sound emanated forth as the house PA was pushed to the limits. Sonic feedback and tumultuous slam culminated in a climatic conclusion.

When it was over, the ears rung, the head spun. I had to gather some sense and back out, get some air. But first we hit the bands merchandise lot and bought us some. I love my pink vinyl of “Hell on High Heels”, my non stop rotational of “Dirty Protest” and me cohort in crime has been sporting her girly tee ‘bout town.  You know Shugsters; it’s always a good idea to support these acts if and when you can, as mostly that’s their only bread and butter enabling them to bring it.

I was fortunate to hit two more Smears shows in the days that followed. Mid week I raced off the mundane and caught their set at the Silverlake Lounge. A Pretty Mess was not on the bill this night, but Dee was in attendance and she commented that the small gathering looked like a Rainbow Bar and Grill crowd. Having spent many a year in that establishment I knew exactly what she meant. Yeah more rock and roller than punk, but that was tight in my book as The Smears needed to be seen by all Angelinos out and about.

Friday night’s gig was utter amazing as both A Pretty Mess and The Smears brought down The Vu in Newhall CA. This show was fucking crazy, thanks in part to Santa Clarita’s finest who moshed up a storm. Treating us to a tad different set list, we got to enjoy live performances of “Bring it On” and “Horribly Wrong”, both off of The Smears latest release. On the set list I knicked from The Vu’s stage I noticed that they included a song called “Prowling Mangina’s”. LOL! Nice touch. In the end Mamiee V thanked the crowed and said, “You’ve done us proud!”

Upon leaving The Vu, we said our goodbyes and wished The Smears safe passage. We will miss them, as will all of their new California fans. Perhaps a stint of stow-away is in order.

Stay tuned for part two, A Pretty Mess…. Coming soon !!!!

The Smears – Handcuffs and Powderpuffs Video
The Smears @ Facebook
The Smears @ Reverbnation
Bill General Photos