Tribute bands are usually a sucker’s bet, a sure indication that somewhere along the road you’ve lost any discernment whatsoever with the pop-culture nuggets you’ve let dissolve on your metaphorical palate. That’s usually.
The Sweet and Tender Hooligans are a cover band, but they are so much better than that, so much more musically vital and emotionally cathartic that they alone give partial validation to the whole horribly incestuous (and fucked up) concept of cover bands. The Hooligans, and their lead singer, Jose Maldonado, pray to the altar of the Smiths, and everybody’s favorite effete poet and uber-crooner Morrissey. Maldonado and the boys are so damn good at what they do that they transcend the term cover band–transcend it, smash it into bits and leave its corpse in a ditch. They are quite simply a great live experience, and if I might be sacrilegious, better than their Gods on some nights. Their rhyhmn section is tight and effective, and guitarist David Collett recreates Johnny Marr’s elegant frills spot on.
The Hooligans are playing the Glass House in Pomona’s arts colony this Saturday, September 22–20 years to the day that the Smiths disbanded in 1987, the very day that the Smiths last studio album, Strangeways, Here We Come, was released. The Hooligans will be performing the album in its entirety–which the authentic Smiths never did–followed by a greatest hits parade of Smiths’ tunes and some of Moz’s best solo stuff. Strangeways is not the most beloved of Smiths records, but it was still damn fine. The record is notable for some of the extra sonic textures, Johnny Marr was really trying to expand the Smiths’ parameters at the time, and it will be interesting to see how the Hooligans handle it all live. But handle it they will, as befits the world’s greatest cover band. Viva la Nostalgia!
The Sweet and Tender Hooligans and Girl in a Coma at the Glass House (200 W. 2nd Street, Pomona); (909) 865-3802; Tickets are $15, doors at 7pm