Apocalypse Now

The end is near -- does anyone care for a 'caack-taail'?

Like everyone else, we here have heard the ominous rumblings, frightening whispers, foreboding rumors and the like. But in what is surely one of the seven signs of the impending apocalypse (for the others, see the Tool review in this week's Recordings), we have confirmed that it has finally happened: a Satellite tribute band.

This Saturday, May 26, Billy Gordon's in Tempe will serve as home for the first, last and only performance from Satellike: A Tribute to Satellite -- The Whitey Years.

The brain child of former Valley band (turned L.A. residents) and onetime Satellite tour mates Stone Bogart, Satellike is less a local music in-joke than a loving homage to the Stephen Ashbrook-led combo.

In a thoroughly disturbing e-mail we received announcing the project, the group expressed its fondness for and debt to the band.

"When we had first moved to Arizona [Satellite] was a huge inspiration and help to us. In addition to that they got us very drunk in some strange cities and entertained us countless times . . . we love them."

Stone Bogart promises an ambitious set of music, including a "full tribute to Satellite, a tribute of Satellite doing a tribute to another band, and a song Satellite may have written if they had stayed around."

There have, of course, been other efforts from local promoters hoping to tap into the Ashbrook phenomenon -- one wag even bandied about the idea of a karaoke night dedicated to the singer. Still, this is the first actual tribute on record in the Valley, or anywhere else in the United States, for that matter (there have been reports of tributes in remote parts of Germany, where Ashbrook -- who recently toured der Fatherland -- is quickly becoming a star of Hasselhoffian proportions).

Satellike is scheduled to open for L.A popsters Cockeyed Ghost (see following item) at 8 p.m. The drinks -- or "caack-taails," as Ashbrook himself might put it -- are expected to flow.

Speaking of cover outfits, Phoenix's only (and how we do thank God for that) Wings tribute band, Bluebird, returns just in time to capitalize on the recent ABC documentary and CD release Wingspan -- which debuted at a very impressive No. 2 on the Billboard charts a couple weeks back.

The performance -- scheduled for this Thursday, May 24, at Nita's Hideaway in Tempe -- will purportedly be the final show from the group which debuted with a rousing (if somewhat shambolic) set at the Emerald Lounge last August. The decision to end Bluebird is apparently the result of a cease and desist order from the Paul McCartney camp which claims that the group's performances "are even more damaging to the McCartney name than that tape of Linda singing off-key was."

Bluebird is scheduled to perform with Undertoe, and the Falters. The show begins at 9 p.m.

Pollen R.I.P.: Eulogizing a band is not an easy proposition. It's a task often burdened by a degree of enmity and a sense of defeat. In the case of local pop punks Pollen -- who end their nearly decadelong run this week -- it's less about such grand sentiments than just a simple and very genuine bit of sadness.

Perhaps part of that feeling comes from the fact that, unlike most local band breakups, there is a definite sense of finality to this split -- of course, we could be wrong and the group could mount a "reunion" in a matter of weeks or months, but we seriously doubt that.

The group's demise is unfortunate, as the band hit a creative high point with last year's Chip,released on Fueled by Ramen Records. Pollen's run with the Florida-based indie imprint was far more positive than its tenure with Wind Up Records -- which brings to mind a favorite anecdote about the group.

Flush with money and hubris from the unexpected (and wholly inexplicable) success of Creed a few years back, Wind Up strongly suggested to Pollen that it alter its sound -- the exact quote from label execs was "more Third Eye Blind, less Rocket From the Crypt" -- an idea rejected by the group, which told the label, in effect, to stick it up their Creed-shilling asses.

The band eventually left Wind Up and a whole lot of promotional cash behind, but retained its integrity -- an act of defiance that should earn Pollen universal respect, regardless of whether you're a fan of its music.

In the end, it was the incessant and often difficult promotional demands -- namely, extended touring -- of being an independent-minded group that was the major factor in the group's decision to call it a day.

Individually, the band members will continue to have a significant impact on the local music scene. Guitarist Mike Bennett and drummer Bob Hoag are spearheading a raw, punk side project called Insert Coins. Significantly, Hoag -- Pollen's chief songwriter -- also has a new full-time endeavor called The Go! Reflex (which is set to release an LP in October and tour later in the fall) and remains an in-demand producer. Bassist Chris Serafini continues to man the rhythm for alterna-rockers Ghetto Cowgirl, while singer Dan Hargest is reviving his pre-Pollen outift, Sextet. Guitarist Kevin Scanlon is shifting his focus to the visual arts; the fruits of his new passion, photography, appeared in this very column a few weeks ago.

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