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All right Tokyo! 

Saturday night was truly the winter of my discontent: salty, shitty, snowy, and cold. Two-thousand-and-three arrived stillborn and under-whelming. My jones for palm trees and sunshine ran feverishly, unchecked. My boots leaked. But once again, I knew rock 'n' roll would warm my soul.

            Richmond's has a great neighborhood feel. But when you shoehorn a few rock bands between the big-screen TV and the dartboard, and sling some cheap ale to the imbibing masses, it becomes an arena. On this particular triple-bill battle royale, The Tyrones kicked off with music of odd construction and keen execution. The trio bopped one minute with pop hooks and ease, only to jackknife into VU dissonance the next. The rhythm threatened to explode, and in several instances, did. This is an exciting, original band you shouldn't waste your time trying to classify. Just go and see 'em.

            Following them was El Destructo, playing the intense set of rock 'n' roll we've come to expect from the man and his eponymous band. The band is tight as hell, but still comes off with nonchalant elegance and a lopsided sneer --- white-boy soul and king-size cool.

            Defenbombed concluded the bill with the swing of a blue-collar hammer in their classic, heavy-handed, barroom rock. New drummer John Campbell displays so many chops, you'd swear it was an octopus behind the kit. Defenbombed belong in Everybar, USA. It's music with no remorse and no expiration date.

            Slogged through the slush and sleaze to the Bug Jar for Tokyo, Japan's Electric Eel Shock. The trio boasted monster, garage-rock metal, and delivered. With an Asian-Afroed guitarist switching from Yngwie hammer-ons to punk power chords; an ultra-wired, sawed-off, Dee Dee-lookin' bassist who locked in with the kick-drum big time; and a naked (except for the Red Hot Chili Peppers-inspired sock) drummer who pounded his mohawked head as much as the drums, Electric Eel Shock brought down the house. We had all heard word these guys were good, but had no idea just how good. They were mucho intense, leaving the audience standing with mouths agape like baby birds waiting for a worm. The show concluded with the guitarist wrestling with his Flying V... and losing.

            All right, Tokyo! The new year's looking better already.

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