Almost a decade after they started, the Cramps remain hermetically sealed in their stylistic crypt. The increasingly reclusive quartet's first hometown appearance in more than two years at a half-filled Universal Amphitheatre on Saturday showed that little has changed for these Norma Desmonds of psychobilly, as the group roared through a trashy set of swap-meet Gothic sex-rock.
Pale, reptilian singer Lux Interior bellowed, wailed and fondled his black leather-clad body as guitarist Ivy Rorschach seamlessly issued twangy, grungy Link Wray/Duane Eddy stylings with the icy cool of a dominatrix. But while the group's earlier hoodoo voodoo approach has been replaced by sleazy innuendo novelties like "Corn-Fed Dames"--we're talking class act here--it was the older Cramps "classics" like "Human Fly" and "Sunglasses After Dark," that stimulated those primordial rock 'n' roll juices and reminded you why this band of determined primitivists was once the most promising contender from American punk's second wave.
Ironically, the Cramps, who strip-mined the late '50s and early '60s for obscure source material, these days almost seem like a punk nostalgia act themselves. Now that's really ghoulish.