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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Meat Puppets, Ethyl Meatplow Fuel 'Rock for Choice' Concert

September 28, 1993|LORRAINE ALI

During Ethyl Meatplow's set at Sunday's abortion-rights benefit concert at the Palace, singer Carla Bozulich writhed and panted as she stalked the front of the stage, glaring intently into the audience as if selecting victims to seduce. Talk about empowerment.

The steamy L.A. trio was joined at the latest "Rock for Choice" concert by Seattle's Mudhoney, veteran undergrounders the Meat Puppets, L.A. stalwarts Thelonious Monster and Claw Hammer. Although Mudhoney was the headliner, Ethyl Meatplow and the Meat Puppets put on the best shows.

The Meatplows were in typically provocative form. Booming dance beats (from live drums) and whirring, industrial sound propelled two gyrating male dancers, who simulated sex acts with second singer John Napier and stripped down to net body suits and boxer shorts. Two female couples danced on stage in tamer fashion for the band's slow number.

The hyperactive Napier's feverish vocal ramblings over various sampled sounds (including the squealing motif from "Psycho") collided with Bozulich's deep groans and roars--it sounded like a B-52's from hell.

The Meat Puppets, who followed, didn't gyrate at all but did sweat profusely while playing their seamless and charged fusion of country, jazz, bluegrass and rock. The group had built up so much momentum by mid-set that if they had stopped suddenly, you felt, they would have toppled over. In the finale, the tight tunes exploded into a mass of scattered feedback, and the fairly young crowd responded with a surprised enthusiasm.

Tough acts to follow, and Mud-honey--which is better on record than on stage--proved too repetitive and fuzzed-out to really top the evening, although its '60s-influenced garage-pop had some of the packed audience moshing.

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