Icky Boyfriends – Live in San Francisco

Icky Boyfriends - Live in San Francisco

The Live in San Francisco series by Castle Face Records features garage rock bands picked and curated by label owner John Dwyer. Contrary to the psychedelic offerings that are the forte of Castle Face, the Live acts are typically loud, fast, and abrasive old school-flavored garage rock with plenty of swearing and irreverency. As of this writing, there are seven entries in the series; Icky Boyfriends are the fourth entry, recorded at the SF Eagle. True to form, their recording features nineteen songs in only thirty minutes; it’s not fast, it’s lightning. Tracks feature little more than drums, guitar, and vocals; the last of which are delivered in a bawdy, sarcastic style. It’s quite punky at moments, as heard on “Ecophobia” and “Pigs Pt. 1 & 2.”

Sadly, this is not a good recording of the band. Whereas the live sets of White Fence and OBN IIIs were full of life and produced so well that one could close their eyes and feel as if they were right in front of the stage, Icky Boyfriends’ live production is flat and uninteresting. It doesn’t help that most of the songs are very simple and unrefined, giving the impression of a rather immature band with unimpressively fleshed out songs with too much meandering and screwing around after they end. Perhaps its the fault of the recording quality, but the lead singer’s voice is way too slurred and out-of-tune – it’s past the point of garage rock endearment. Although the guitar is in maximum overdrive, this recording doesn’t capture its prowess, causing to a rather empty-sounding set as if the band were playing to an empty stadium rather than a packed club venue.

The band frequently makes jokes and off-hand comments on-stage, but they’re not really that funny. It’s worse on “Even Richard Nixon’s Got a Soul” and “Don’t Read the Bay Guardian.” The former is a strange half-unaccompanied ballad to the former president; the latter is a shredding of the titular magazine, but it doesn’t make much sense outside of context. “Frank’s Mom” might have been cute… if I knew who the hell Frank is supposed to be.1 It’s as if someone recorded a house show that a band did for a bunch of close friends and then marketed it as a wide release; yeah, it’s cool that someone captured the show, but nobody’s going to get your references – doubly so if they weren’t there.

Live in San Francisco has a few decent entries, but Icky Boyfriends is not one of them. Perhaps their studio releases sound better. There are a couple potential tracks – such as the thirty second “My Disciples” and closer “Drug Wars” – but they’re not nearly enough to carry this live release.

1. Intro Bit – (0:25) – ★☆☆☆☆
2. 22 Fillmore – (1:27) – ★★★☆☆
3. Miss Nevada – (1:30) – ★★★☆☆
4. Cuckoo – (2:03) – ★★☆☆☆
5. Ecophobia – (2:13) – ★★★☆☆
6. My Disciples – (0:32) – ★★★★☆
7. I’m Not Fascinating – (1:17) – ★★★☆☆
8. Frank’s Mom – (1:39) – ★★☆☆☆
9. Don’t Read the Bay Guardian – (0:45) – ★☆☆☆☆
10. I Was… – (2:05) – ★★☆☆☆
11. Toenails – (1:55) – ★★☆☆☆
12. Even Richard Nixon’s Got a Soul – (2:38) – ★☆☆☆☆
13. Bay Colony Baby – (2:10) – ★★★☆☆
14. Rock & Roll Asshole – (2:17) – ★★☆☆☆
15. Resurrection Ale – (1:48) – ★★★☆☆
16. Pigs, Pt. 1 – (0:22) – ★★☆☆☆
17. Pigs, Pt. 2 – (0:27) – ★★☆☆☆
18. No Duh – (1:44) – ★★☆☆☆
19. Drug Wars [Original] – (3:03) – ★★★★☆

Overall: ★★☆☆☆

1Yeah, there’s “Stacey’s Mom;” but I feel like I’m supposed to know who Frank’s mom is. Plus “Stacey’s Mom” carries itself when the other song doesn’t.

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