Green Jelly stops in at Blacklight District Long Beach
By Naughty Mickie
Photos by Dean Lee

I was thrilled when I learned that rockers Green Jelly were going to play at Blacklight District in Long Beach, California, as I was an avid fan of the band back in the day... way back when they were known as Green Jello. I also had the honor of joining them on stage in a couple of numbers during the Rock City News Awards when I was a presenter and had a blast.

Blacklight District was a bit of a surprise. Its main room is mostly taken up by a rectangular bar and the adjoining space holds two weathered pool tables and an OK-sized stage with a bank of seating along the wall. The bathrooms were clean, the bartender was super nice and poured fairly and the sound system was surprisingly good. 

ADHD Entertainment booked, promoted and ran the evening and did a great job. All of the opening acts - six! - ran on time like clockwork and the stage changeovers went quicker than I usually see. Here's a list of the bands with a bit about each:

FryGirl started the night. I've seen them before and I like this punky, poppy, perky trio. The lead vocalist and guitarist has a unique voice with a nice range and she isn't afraid to let her emotions take over her tones to add impact to a tune. The bassist and drummer are solid and know when to step up and when to hold back. I would definitely catch this group again. They're releasing a new album and I recommend checking it out.

Cedar Boulevard is talented, yet confusing. Each player's musicianship shines individually, but that's the problem, everyone here seems to be in a different band or jockeying for leadership. They started out playing something that would appeal to the Warped Tour crowd, then went to metal with the lead vocalist singing pop style and later followed his lead and went almost bubblegum. Throughout, this is the hard part to explain, each member still maintained the essence of their own personal style, whether it was metal, pop or something else. It pains me to rip on a local act, but perhaps they need to choose one direction or split off into the factions that please them best, as they have the licks, just not together.

Edith was another punk/pop act, but leaning more toward punk. They were solid and the vocalist did a good job. This group may be one to watch, as I think they might have something good here.

Aces and Eights were surprising, as they don't look cohesive, yet their sound was right on and decent rock. Their singer had the chops and the players worked well together. They were the kind of band that would do very well on the bar circuit.

Unknown band... I didn't catch the name of this act and don't recall them saying it. They were what I call a roar-roar metal band, the kind with a singer who growls out the lyrics. I don't particularly care for this, but their music was amazing. They were tight and at times orchestral. Impressive, too bad they didn't have anything with a logo or name on it so I can't watch for them playing somewhere else.

Kaustik is a local metal band out of La Mirada. Musically they were together and interesting, but their lead singer was annoying. As they launched into their second song, he insisted that EVERYONE in the bar clap and he was intent that they wouldn't play until all of the crowd conceded. Some of the people in the bar just wanted to sit and watch and relax, so he tried to intimidate them into clapping and when they didn't comply, he humiliated them, when they still didn't respond, he finally gave up. By then it had gone on way too long. If he wants to lose playtime on stage I guess that's his choice and, unfortunately for this band, it will now be my choice to avoid ever seeing them again. Too bad, as I might have hit them up for a future story, but I can't stand people who treat others meanly, especially when you want something from them... and goodness, the crowd had only heard one song so they hadn't even gotten into the groove of the act yet...

And finally, what we came for! After a long wait, during which I learned that part of the band was stuck in traffic and then having problems parking, Green Jelly was in the house. It was a short set, but a strange and wonderful one. The lead singer (and I believe the only original member of the band) invited a clutch of the men in the audience to assist him in being "puppets," which meant they would don huge painted, duct taped, paper mache heads in the shapes of various creatures and do what he requested on cue. 

The band offered up its most popular tune, "Three Little Pigs," and soon had the crowd laughing and singing along. We all cooperated when the vocalist asked us to gather around for a story and later backed up so the puppets could mosh and dance. In true punk tradition, at one point, the singer stood on a stool in the middle of the stage and dropped his pants. He completed the set wearing his undershorts and attitude. It was a fun time, but, sigh, went so quickly. 

All in all, Green Jelly did about five songs. I was not alone in asking for an encore. The vocalist asked me what I wanted to hear and I requested my favorite, "Electric Harley House of Love." He said they couldn't do it as he didn't have the costume, but he took my hand and quickly sang a medley of Green Jelly song titles to me. Then with a grin, bid me - and the rest of the audience - good night.

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