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NIGHT LIFE: CLUB SCENE : Escape Artists : Refugees from the New Wave movement will camp at the Ventura Theatre on Friday night.

August 09, 1990|BILL LOCEY

It's billed as the "Escape From New York" tour and it features the Old Guard of rock's New Wave from the late '70s: The Ramones, Deborah Harry, the Tom Tom Club and Jerry Harrison.

After escaping New York, the show escaped Santa Barbara, where it was originally scheduled for the Arlington Theatre, and now will play the Ventura Theatre on Friday night.

Anyone who's ever seen "Midnight Cowboy" would want to escape from New York too; it doesn't take a sociologist to know that. But why do they always have to escape to California? Don't we already have enough traffic? Hopefully, all these bands are just passing through.

Back in the mid- to late '70s when these bands first became known, New Wave was punk. As a counter to the mid-'70s disco-corporate rock, the black leather-clad Ramones invented punk in 1976 with their 1-2-3-4 sonic assaults that had sufficient power to heat New York City all winter and also fire up the punk scene in England. The Ramones created a primitive but unique sound that hasn't changed in all these years. The band is musical proof of the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

The Ramones are the Ohio State football of rock 'n' roll--three chords and a cloud of dust. Most of their songs are about three minutes long--so if you don't like one, just wait. Then again, most every song sounds the same, only the titles change, inevitably featuring a smoking guitar solo from Johnny Ramone. Some of their stuff is pretty funny too--"Beat on the Brat With a Baseball Bat," "I Wanna Be Sedated," "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg" and "Rock 'n' Roll High School."

Perhaps the most enduring picture of The Ramones came at the first US Festival at Glen Helen Regional Park in 1982. First of all, it was so hot that a train ride to hell would represent a cooling trend. So it's a million degrees on the first day and, as one of the first bands to perform, out step The Ramones onto the massive stage, all wearing long pants and black leather jackets. Are they from New York or outer space or are they just tough?

Harry, was of course, the lead singer of Blondie, another late '70s New Wave smash out of the Big Apple. When she played Ventura solo a few months back, she ended up strutting around the stage in her underwear. The Tom Tom Club features all the important Talking Heads except the most important Talking Head, David Byrne. In any case, Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz and Jerry Harrison will crank up a few Heads hits.

Reportedly, the bands draw straws prior to the show to establish the order of performance, each of which will be about 55 minutes.

I wonder how an "Escape From Los Angeles" tour would do with X, Oingo Boingo, the Blasters and Top Jimmy and the Rhythm Pigs?

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