A decade ago, Redd Kross was a valuable teen-age antidote to punk gloom. Today, when such hyper-somber groups as Stone Temple Pilots sell millions of albums, the L.A. band is absolutely necessary , the same way the Ohio Express was necessary back when Iron Butterfly was selling millions of albums.
Which isn't to say it was all "Chewy Chewy" when Redd Kross played the Palace on Friday--far from it, despite matching vintage British military jackets and a picture of Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes on the drum kit. The maturing band, fronted by hair-tossing brothers Jeff and Steven McDonald, has added emotional meat to its bubbly metalgum, perfecting a balance both in concert and on the new "Phaseshifter" album that only Nick Lowe and very few others have ever achieved.
Sure, they still play up the happy-face '60s-'70s retro kitsch. But they do it with the self-deflating wink missing from Lenny Kravitz, and without ever seeming dazed or confused. Who else could pull off an encore set segueing across decades from Elton John's ominous instrumental "Funeral for a Friend" to PJ Harvey's weighty "Oh My Lover" to KISS' stomping "Deuce" to the Partridge Family's frothy "I'll Meet You Halfway" without exuding smug irony?