Joe King Carrasco should've worn his crown for more than the first number of his oleo-punk set at the Bayou last night. Bouncing onstage in obligatory late-'70s leopard-skin, he took his band through a brain-numbing set, including the B-52s' inspired "Party Weekend."
Looking like a cross between Steve Martin and a Texas University cheerleader, Carrasco pogoed incessantly across the stage, occasionally jumping down among the dancers or knocking over mikes. But even these antics couldn't make the band's Laraine New-man-lookalike farfisa player stray from her two chords, not the beat from its 120-on-the-metronome monotony. It was suburban punk at a maximum, the only weird moment being when Carrasco announced, DJ-dedication style, "I just got word Jerry Lee Lewis won't be with us very long, so this one goes out to him," and launched into an unconvincing rendition of "Party Doll" (Lewis is hospitalized in critical condition, suffering from a severe abdominal disorder). Carrasco obviously owes more to "Saturday Night Live" than to Lewis.
Opening the set was Hilly Michaels, a former New York session guitarist whose band was making its formal debut. Michaels has the stage presence of a warm-blooded praying mantis; his lyrics match Nick Lowe's for wit while his voice recalls David Bowie's, without the psychosexual ambiguity. Backed by two excellent axemasters, bass and drum, Michaels performed hot, come-hither tunes like "Institutional Home" and a rib-jabbing "Russisan Girls." He and his band seem to have rediscovered that a little expertise an dynamics go a long way, even if much of it went right over the audience's heads.