POP MUSIC REVIEW : Noiseworks Band Plays On Despite Dearth of Viewers

Noiseworks’ local debut Monday at Bogart’s in Long Beach couldn’t have been too easy or uplifting for the Australian band. In its homeland, the quintet has accumulated a fistful of chart-topping records and is a huge concert draw.

Yet at Bogart’s, there were fewer folks than Noiseworks probably has on its road crew back home--and most of those on hand didn’t seem particularly familiar with the music. A lot of bands faced with this kind of situation would have been sufficiently discouraged to just coast through the set.

Not Noiseworks. These guys played as though they were in front of a sell-out crowd of adoring Aussies--or more accurately, perhaps--played as though their life depended on this show, demonstrating the kind of spunk and determination that must partly account for their success.


The band covered a lot of sonic ground in its 45-minute set, but there were a few traits that ran throughout Noiseworks’ pop-rock pastiche: A muscular instrumental attack, a solid rhythmic foundation, potent, soulful vocals by lead singer Jon Stevens and wonderfully inspired guitar work by Stuart Fraser, who alternated between soaring flights of fret-board fancy and forceful rock embroidered with Edge-y guitar lines.

The approach isn’t overly innovative or adventurous but it works. The band continues its Southland swing with shows tonight at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, Friday at the Bacchanal in San Diego and Saturday at the Green Door in Montclair.

As for opening act Anasazi: OK, so we don’t get out as much anymore but this quintet was the worst band we’ve heard in many months, maybe years. The band unapologetically dispenses bloated, vapid melodic metal and may see itself as another Loverboy. Wasn’t one plenty?

A brief thumbs-up to Super Collider, who, through Noiseworks’ choice, topped Monday’s bill: A singer-guitarist/drummer duo--imagine House of Freaks exploring icy minimalism--these two guys are pursuing their odd, bleak vision for its own sake, certainly realizing it has little or no chance in the rock marketplace. You have to applaud them for that and for their grace in presenting that vision to a crowd even tinier than Noiseworks’.

Noiseworks and Stikkitty play at 8 tonight at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano. Tickets: $8 to $11. Information: (714) 496-8930.