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Radiating Some Disco Heat

The Atomic Dogs get funky at the Aftershock on Thursdays--and that's the way the crowd likes it.

March 26, 1998|HEIDI SIEGMUND CUDA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Picture this: You're at a nightclub, you're movin' to the groovin' with the Betty or Bobby of your choice. The band's taking you higher, so high in fact, you're elevated to stage level and in the faces of all the players.

The lead singer's wearing a satin lavender jumpsuit, platform boots swaddled in pink-sequin leg warmers with matching sash, and an apple cap. The bass player is clad in a white furry diaper, color-coordinated mugwumps and a Baby Huey bonnet. The guitarist looks funky fresh in Bootsy Collins star shades, a sky-blue spacesuit, with an unfeasibly high silver collar and startlingly low V-neck. The drummer's blond afro wig bops in and out of view while he vigorously wails on his kit.

No, you're not in a "Wayne's World" dream sequence, but a full-throttle discotheque in Studio City, and the Atomic Dogs leave you barking for more. The latest cover band from Perfect World Entertainment, the company that gave birth to the '90s disco revolution, the Atomic Dogs appear every Thursday night at the Aftershock and you can read the reverb on the wall: Funk lives.

While such bands as the Boogie Knights and Bootie Quake enter their fifth year of allowing people to relive the disco era in six states--Perfect World now has 20 cover bands on its roster--it was time for a new old revolution. After ringing in the '80s with such new additions as Metal Shop and the M-80s, partners Jamie Brown and Roger Sauce decided we, the people, need the funk.

The first funk creation they launched was Dr. Funkenstein, which is already headlining weekly shows in Las Vegas despite its being only 4 months old. And with the Atomic Dogs, they've outdone themselves.

Brown and Sauce, who create and choreograph each of the bands, held open auditions in the fall, and 500 musicians tried to make the team. "It was like spring training," says Dave Hewitt, a talent coordinator for Perfect World who says performers from bands such as Warrant and L.A. Guns are part of Perfect World's lineup. "Musicians from successful, competing disco cover bands tried out and they couldn't cut it."

Ultimately, only two performers were hired (and they're substitutes, no less). The Atomic Dogs were then stitched together from two other Perfect World bands, the Polyester Pimps and La Freak. Despite its recent formation, the quartet's weekends are already booked. Currently, the Atomic Dogs play at the Safari Bar in West Covina on Fridays and Nickelby's in Ventura on Saturdays, and began performing at the Aftershock four weeks ago.

A recent performance by the funk band revealed why Perfect World has been so successful with its bands. The musicians are first-rate and the concepts are carried out in minute detail. As with disco, new wave and metal, the music and the performances are even better the second time around. There are no naysayers around to ruin a good time, only people who want to, well, get down, get down.

At the Aftershock, which is modeled after an '80s disco down to the mirrored walls and Nagel-esque color scheme, the environment is ideal for the Atomic Dogs, who perform everything from Grandmaster Flash to Prince, with heavy doses of Parliament (thus the band's name) and Rick James, who lead singer Tommy Dog apes with precision. The band, which brings in its own sound system for the weekly event, even succeeds at reinventing the wheel to some degree, giving funk music a relevance and respect it never fully received during its mid-'80s heyday.

So the next time you're all dressed up with no place to boogie, you might want to make the migration to the Aftershock, where the Atomic Dogs offer a temblor each Thursday that won't make you duck for cover.

BE THERE

Atomic Dog at the Aftershock on Thursdays, 11345 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, (818) 752-9833. 21 and over, $5 cover (ladies free before 10 p.m.).

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