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.

Satellike: Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Satellike: Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Cockeyed Ghost celebrates the release of its new CD, 
Ludlow 6:18, with a show at Billy Gordon's on 
Saturday, May 26.
Cockeyed Ghost celebrates the release of its new CD, Ludlow 6:18, with a show at Billy Gordon's on Saturday, May 26.
Captured! By Robots hits the Blue Ox this week.
Captured! By Robots hits the Blue Ox this week.

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.

As to the band's swan song, don't expect too many guests, surprises or Last Waltz-style heroics, just a blistering set of rock 'n' roll which will include several chestnuts from the group's catalogue.

Pollen performs its final show, an all-ages event, this Friday, May 25, at Nita's Hideaway, with River City High, and Dynamite Boy. The concert begins at 9 p.m.

Tool Time: Someone should send part-time Arizona resident and Tool leader Maynard Keenan a congratulatory bouquet.

According to early reports from L.A.-based record industry magazine H.I.T.S., Tool's latest opus, Lateralus, will debut at No. 1 on the SoundScan charts, having sold between 500,000 and 600,000 copies in its first week. Much of the difficulty in compiling final numbers is the result of stocking problems, as sales were far more brisk than manufacturers and retailers had anticipated.

Case in point: Tempe's Zia Record Exchange. During the hour that Bash & Pop spent in the store on that first week's Tuesday afternoon (perusing the latest in New Age titles), at least 50 patrons came in asking for the Tool album. All of them left empty-handed as the store had already sold out, restocked and then sold out of the disc again -- ringing up 300-plus copies in the first 12 hours alone. The bulk of those were sold the previous night during a Midnight Sale that witnessed a line of Tool-heads queued up out the door and a half-mile down the block.

The throng seemed less interested in the day's other big-name releases, as buyers -- many of them ASU students -- took home 10 times as many copies of Lateralus as Reveal, the latest from R.E.M. (so much for that college-rock fan base, eh, boys?).

In general, Valley sales reflected national numbers on Super Tuesday as Tool moved twice as many units as the No. 2 seller, Missy Elliott. Weezer's self-titled "comeback" LP also did well, racking up close to a quarter-million sales. Meanwhile, war-horses R.E.M. and Depeche Mode notched somewhere in the 110,000 to 125,000 mark, while another band with Arizona connections, Megadeth, sold 75,000 copies of its latest, The World Needs a Hero (though, one might argue, it could survive quite nicely without another Megadeth album).

Impressive numbers to be sure, but in the end they don't really say much about musical merit. We'll leave that to the critics in our Recordings section (page 90), who take a more penetrating look at a trio of new platters from the likes of Tool, R.E.M. and Weezer.

Ghost With the Most: While it might not have generated the same kind of popular excitement seen for last week's other big-name bows, those in the power-pop community were equally enthused about the fourth full-length effort from L.A. combo Cockeyed Ghost. The band's latest disc, Ludlow 6:18, follows up 1999's masterful Scapegoat Factor -- a heartbreaking cycle of songs chronicling an especially painful period in Ghost leader Adam Marsland's life.

Produced by the band and noted SoCal knob turner Steve Refling (Negro Problem, Martin Luther Lennon), the new disc is an equally melancholy gem, bristling with an abundance of hooks and clever twists -- from Elvis Costello-style workouts to bubblegum-meets-Morricone instrumentals.

Cockeyed Ghost is scheduled to perform at a record-release party on Saturday, May 26, at Billy Gordon's in Tempe. Showtime is 8 p.m.

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto: Jay Vance -- once a ska bassist for Skankin' Pickle and the Blue Meanies -- had such bad luck with bands that he finally decided to build his own. But infinitely worse than any ego-addled, carbon-based life form, his new musical associates (a Rasta-locked timekeeper called DRMBOT0110 and the menacing ax-wielder GTRBOT666) rebelled by shaving their creator's head, installing a bio-cerebral chip and making him answer to the generic epithet of JBOT. For almost five years now, the little buggers have programmed poor JBOT's every move -- forcing him to don heavy chains and a bondage mask and undergo all sorts of unspeakable indignities in public. This madness is Captured! By Robots, a group which offers silly but thought-provoking entertainment while giving a glimpse of the absolute torment that awaits all inferior and pathetic humans -- all of 'em! -- who've entrusted their collective livelihood to modern technology.

Full of fantasy and foolishness, CBR boasts the wisecracking of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the mechanical precision of Survival Research Labs and the profane spectacle of Pinocchio making Geppetto his bitch. Droning keyboards combine with fast and furious rock-based music (and yes, the machines actually do play) for a "one-man" show with off-kilter jingles on bed-wetting, dildos, cancer and robot superiority. The show also features the tambourine-haloed TAWHNN (The Ape Which Hath No Name), whose booming, Godlike voice offers meandering sermons on peace, tolerance and love -- not to mention a fresh take on the Book of Genesis. Captured! By Robots is scheduled to perform on Thursday, May 24, at the Blue Ox. Showtime is 9 p.m. -- John LaBriola

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