Sunday, November 7, 2010

Red Elvises!

I checked out the Red Elvises (or Igor and the Red Elvises, as they call their latest incarnation) at the Continental Club last night and instantly fell in love with this goofy, energetic party band. At first I thought the whole Russian rock-n-roll band thing was a gimmick, but it turns out that the Red Elvises are actually from Russia (although they are based in Santa Monica). Led by Igor Yuzov, who does look a little bit like 1970s Elvis, and Oleg Bernov, who plays the giant red three-string bass balalaika you see in the pic, the REs played their rockabilly/reggae/surf music to one of the biggest and most enthusiastic crowds I've ever seen at the Continental.

Standing between Oleg and Igor like a between-course bowl of sherbet was tiny Milka Ramos, who played a tiny guitar and has a huge, growling voice that sounded like it belonged to a woman twice her size. Milka is from Puerto Rico, so she's a bit of a wild card in this otherwise all-Russian band (which includes the stoic, intense Oleg Scramm on keyboards and accordion and the manic, accomplished Andrei Baranov on drums).

To give you an idea of what kind of music these guys deliver, consider song titles such as "Twist Like Uma Thurman," "Drinking with Jesus," "Memoirs of a Phuket Geisha," "This Music Is Wasted If We Don't Dance," and "A Kegga Beer and Potato Chips." Their lyrics are all in wonderfully broken English and often hilarious. They played for a solid two hours up until the final number, appropriately titled "Show is Over."

I've seen a lot of great bands at the Continental Club over the last year, but no one thrilled me and ultimately exhausted me like the Red Elvises!

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