Friday: Thoughts on Stereofix Trying to Blow Minds at the Yost

Categories: showgazing
Stereofix 2 Yost Victorio.JPG
Christopher Victorio / OC Weekly
Stereofix's Ray Alexander gets bull-horny.
This is bad, but we need to disclose that our intentions in going to Friday night's show at the Yost Theater in Santa Ana weren't entirely pure. 

Yes, we're happy to cover a benefit for multiple sclerosis research, and yes, we enjoyed the show, whose bill was as diverse as OC music itself. We're glad that a sizable crowd attended, and that business seemed brisk at the concession counter selling horchata and cupcake balls for charity.

But the real draw was the rubbernecking curiosity we have about Fountain Valley quartet Stereofix, which may just be Orange County's most baffling band. 

From the looks of it, though, most attendants didn't show up for that sick reason. The crowd count at the Yost seemed peak towards the middle of the evening, when the tightly coiled, Muse-like rockers the Relative Strangers took to the stage. "Come on, you fucking hipsters, clap!" was the order from the front man for Beta Wolf, the nu-hair-metal act that followed the Strangers. The moment probably marked the point when most of the fucking hipsters had left, having gotten to see their portion of the undercard: the intimate twee of I Hate You Just Kidding and the propulsive, earnest anthems of We Are the Pilots

Stereofix draws a different fan base, which is why they're sort of fascinating. At the Gypsy Lounge in February, their showcase ranked as one of the weird highlights of the Orange County Music Awards season: They crammed the place with chicks in low-cut baby doll outfits and boasted a contingent of dudes that belted out the words to the songs while donning doe eyes that reminds this writer of the awesomeness that was seeing Linkin Park at 13.

In this day in age, in this music scene, Stereofix's non-ironic use of eyeliner, bull-horns and smoke machines is hilarious--I've heard them referred to as "totally cheesy"--but, for that very reason, gutsy. No influence is hidden. Cherub-faced singer Ray Alexander has deep lungs and a broad, familiar voice that ranges from sounding like the Killers' Brandon Flowers to sounding like Bono, which is to say it doesn't range very far. That description applies to the rest of the band as well, from the Edge-aping guitar effects to the vaguely disco choruses to the way that nearly every song opens with moody keyboard samples before dropping into a thudding, KROQ-ready groove.

And to be sure, Stereofix, the last band to perform Friday, has found an audience. Although the Yost was emptier than it had been at any point in the two hours before, the second half of Stereofix's set saw a devoted clan of about 30 pressed close to the stage, bobbing heads and pumping fists. 

But with the fog in the air, you can imagine it looked an arena from Alexander's point of view. He's part of the reason that this band is so strange to the uninitiated: He aims for the magnetism and energy of every world-dominating front-man--twirling the mic chord, leaping out onto stacks in front of the stage, falling to his knees during bridges--but, for my money, doesn't quite hit the mark. Maybe it's his squirrely, Chris Kattan build, or maybe it's just his jumping style. He tends to hop from his heels, looking a lot like a kid trying to catch a glimpse of the other side of a fence.

Far be it from us to criticize a band for wanting to put on a good, dramatic show. But it was hard not to notice flashes of self-consciousness from them Friday night, suggesting that the band hasn't quite convinced themselves that they're doing more than playing dress-up. One example came when Alexander pulled the classic trick of coming down into the audience to sing. We all know what that moment is supposed to feel like, and for the people that surrounded him, perhaps it was as transcendent as Alexander wanted it to be. But before addressing the fans, he turned his back to them, looked up to the spot on the stage where he'd been standing seconds before, and said, "I want to see what this looks like." You got the sense he'd been wondering all night.

Also on the bill: Stacy Clark's amiable pop, DJ Old Boy's soul records, and the blues of Old Boy's zombie-faced alter-ego, Brother Cecil. Turkey & Friends organized the event.



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