Turns Up The Heat
By Christian Chensvold
Royal Crown Revue plays, people listen.
least that's what happened on January 17 at the Key Club
in West Hollywood. With 13 years under their collective
belt, the forerunners of the swing revival and self-proclaimed
"Kings of Gangster Bop" have emerged as genuine
entertainers. The band has grown as jazz musicians and songwriters,
and become more dancer friendly. Which is why sitting still
why they played was so disappointing.
by Joe Wood.
it had something to do with the crowd. Despite the band's
growing refinement (frontman Eddie Nichols now prefers
singing "On the Sunny Side of the Street" to
the hitman's homage, "Zip Gun Bop"), Royal Crown
Revue maintains a strong rockabilly following. The Key
Club, hardly a small venue, was packed with pink-haired
punks, LA hipsters, parental types, and pompadours so
tall they were in danger of being circumcised by the ceiling
fan. Though the crowd was eclectic on the surface, the
night was dictated by the whims of the rockabilly scenesters.
Opening act The Hollywood Combo got the dance floor jumping,
but during the intermission, the DJ played tunes specifically
designed for greaser girls to take to the floor with a
line dance called "The Stroll." It was a curious
phenomenon, as they seem content to, with utmost seriousness,
perform the same simple step to song after song ad nauseum.
Perhaps the dance is intended to act as accompaniment
to a kind of beauty parade of tattoos and fishnet stockings.
Thus, when some dancers attempted to swing on the floor's
outskirts, the DJ was heard to command, "Now is not
the time to be lindy hopping. In fact, it's never the
time to be lindy hopping." Someone needs to tell
these people that the lindy hop is exactly what the kids
are doing in all those '50s rock and roll movies.
reviewer's ruminations were brought to a halt by the introduction
of the evening's headliners. Royal Crown Revue rocked, to
use the term of the evening, which is nothing surprising.
From originals, such as that ode to public transportation,
"Watts Local," to a seductively catchy version
of "Too Young," complete with doo-wop backup vocals,
by Joe Wood.
band proved they are certainly no flat characters. Nichols
said a couple of years ago he planned to work on his singing.
He obviously has, and proves that the terms "crooner"
and "tough guy" are not mutually exclusive. His
notorious filthy mouth seems to have been washed with soap
by his momma, and with his characteristic stage moves-somewhere
between a dance and a swagger-he will likely become the
neo-swing generation's equivalent of Wayne Newton, living
out his golden years as a beloved Vegas lounge lizard.
the band's lofty status filled the dance floor with rapt
onlookers, and dancing became impossible. Packed shoulder
to shoulder, the crowd was content to gaze upwards at
the musician-gods, as our American Idol nation watched
in collective solipsism, wondering "What if that
Crown Review plays classic American music. That will never
change. But it's satisfying to see that they have found
plenty of room for growth, while still remaining unabashedly