Rock 'n' roll doesn't necessarily get better; it just keeps rediscovering what's good. The Go-Go's and Joe "King" Carrasco -- darlings of the New Wave -- brought back the early '60s to the Ontario Theater last night. The Go-Go's captured the "girl group" ebullience of the Angels and Shangri-Las and the big-beat drive of the Ventures. Carrasco captured the bouncy, trashy Texas of Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs. The music had nothing to do with nostalgia, however; its party-time stimulation was immediate and timeless.
Rock 'n' roll has been waiting years for a truly great, self-contained, all-female band. Past attempts never made it. The Go-Go's are it. Belinda Carlisle proved a mesmerizing female vocalist, but that's not so rare. More surprising were the two guitarists -- Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin -- who sang the giddy harmonies and wrote the sing-a-long melodies. Most revealing of all were drummer Gina Schock and bassist Kathy Valentine who maintained the booming, driving beat. Their show, which revived rock's best instincts, could change rock's assumptions about gender forever.
Wearing a lopsided red velvet crown, Joe "King" Carrasco yelped like a coyote, leaped like a diver and never let the pumping beat lag. Kris Cummings played the telltale Tex-Mex electric organ on "96 Tears" and Carrasco originals in the same vain. This Texas quartet played with the infectious enthusiasm of a frat party starting their second keg.