For those who worship at the altar of rock, tonight’s performance at the El Rey by Redd Kross and Mikal Cronin should evoke fist pumps and air-guitar strums. Redd Kross is the snarky band founded in the late ‘70s in Hawthorne, California by brothers Steven and Jeff McDonald. They were 11 and 15 at the time. Their early ‘80s work is snarling suburban angst at its finest while their recent music leans more toward anthemic rock, but overall their sound echoes the song structures of another Hawthorne band: the Beach Boys.
They have no zillion-layer vocal harmonies or Brian Wilson-style instrumental breakdowns, but Redd Kross delivers rock and roll with vicious and catchy hooks. In the ‘90s, they were scions of pop-punk, the genre that made Weezer and Green Day into MTV stars. Redd Kross was beloved by the late-night fans who VHS’ed their favorite videos from 120 Minutes. In 2012, Red Kross put out one of the year’s best albums, Researching the Blues, which delivered buzzsaw guitars alongside propulsive beats that lunge forward but never tumble out of control.
Mikal Cronin is the next generation of alt-rocker. He was born in 1985 but his music channels early Redd Kross with salivating, no holds barred freakouts that switch between noise and pop. Imagine a more buttoned up Nirvana. If you want to experience the next generation of riot grrl, be sure to show up early for opener Cherry Glazerr (yes, named after the KCRW personality) who don’t merely make retro-’90s rock, they were born in the ‘90s.