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Pop : Fibbers Upstages Royal Trux

January 31, 1994|LORRAINE ALI

There was no roar of balls rolling down the old lanes at Mr. T's Bowl, the Highland Park alley-turned-bar that was the home Saturday night of the roaming club Fuzzyland. Instead, Royal Trux ground out feedback on a stage erected above the defunct lanes. Great setting. Not such a great band.

A group spawned out of New York's experimental noise scene and now based in Chicago, Royal Trux plays warped, Stones-style classic rock while donning '70s, white-trash fashion. This makes the group a kitschy and extra-cool novelty in the indie rock world.

Clad in skin-tight, tattered bell bottoms and her hair combed over her face, lead singer Jennifer Herrema belted out unintelligible lyrics in a Louie Armstrong-affected rumble as the band played noisy mutations of classic rock.

As the songs seemed to slow and speed up like a faulty turntable, the inside joke was entertaining--but wore thin.

The musicians who were rolling strikes at Mr. T's made up the group Geraldine Fibbers, a new L.A. country band featuring Ethyl Meatplow lead singer Carla Bozulich. Although Fibbers played only familiar country tunes, the band made the songs its own by serving them up with thick and gritty, double-guitar sound backed by an aggressive violin.

The Fibbers, also consisting of a stand-up bass and drums, played an especially soulful version of "He Stopped Loving Her Today," one of George Jones' signature hits, but the highlight was the urgent rendition of Dolly Parton's old "Jolene."

Bozulich's deep and throaty vocals, which usually growl over Ethyl Meatplow's industrial dance music, seemed in their element crooning the moody tunes. In the maze of new groups with experimental ideas, this one stands out.

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