Bamboo Club Long Beach, CA
Players: Kim Morris, vocals, bass, theremin; Mike Morris, vocals, guitar; Jason Cordero, drums
Material: Happy Sundays is a wonderful free festival that sees a bunch of Long Beach bars and venues joining forces. One wristband (only ID required) gets you into everywhere, and a bus service takes you around the participating buildings. It’s like a mini SXSW and under these Delta pandemic conditions, it’s particularly welcome that the Bamboo Club’s stage is outdoors. The venue also offers the perfect surroundings for the music of Long Beach punks the Thingz.
The Bamboo Club is a tiki-themed bar; tiki torches and Hawaiian decor adorn every wall and surface, and that’s utterly conducive to the Thingz’s surf-punk racket. The male-female dual vocals from Mike and Kim Morris decorate a sound that is harder than the B-52’s and slightly sillier than the Cramps, but sits very comfortably between those two classic bands. In fact, they cover the Cramps’ “Human Fly” here. There are a bunch of songs from their recent Just in Time album too, including the gloriously ludicrous “Animal Tavern,” “Be a Rat” and “Alligator Man.” Bring your sense of humor—these guys love their animal-themed punk ditties.
Musicianship: One could easily be dismissive of the Thingz in this area, but that would be a mistake. Like the Ramones (to name one of many), the Thingz play at a frantic pace and you could be forgiven for thinking that there are only two or three chords buried under the fuzz and distortion. Dig through it a little, though, and you’ll find that there are plenty of flourishes in there. Plus, if the many recent tributes to the late Charlie Watts have taught us anything, it’s that the “less is more” approach is totally valid.
Performance: The Thingz are a joy to witness when they’re in full flow. Mike Morris is all manic energy, leaning back on his heels before pummeling his instrument. Cordero keeps things (thingz?) ticking over nicely, and Morris offers changes of dimensions when she switches from bass to theremin and back. A huge smile is never far away from any of their faces, and that joy is infectious.
Summary: The Thingz opened the Happy Sundays festival at the Bamboo Club, and on a beautifully sunny Sunday afternoon they were just what the doctor ordered. Brilliant, bouncy punk tunes that your toes tap to before you know it’s happening. The band has been knocking around Long Beach dives for a while, and their shows are always worth dropping in on. Ditto, every new album, which will always be a pleasure. Get hip.