Andy Clockwise is a manipulator, a button-pusher, a shameless plunderer of musical styles who looks like a mob accountant but plays like he should be wearing Spandex. He swears like a 17-year-old dirtbag and often attracts crowds populated by former 17-year-old dirtbags now refining those social skills in collared-shirt adulthood.
- ||| Photos by Laurie Scavo
His myriad contradictions seem inherently damaging to an actual career in music – if you were a record label, how on earth would you posit a one-man variety show? – but there is one constant in the audacious Aussie’s world: Andy Clockwise puts on one hell of a show.
He did so on Wednesday night at the downtrodden Hollywood club King King, showcasing material from a forthcoming release “War Stories” as if he were still fully engaged in the battle. Which he is, kind of – Clockwise is an outsider who plays rock, disco and pop with equal aplomb and laces his lyrics, at turns, with wise-guy quips, pompous pronouncements and squeamish emotion. If he’s not his own genre, then he’s definitely his own scene.
There’s a purposeful daftness to some of his music that, if you’re daft, sends blood rushing to every part of your body. If you’re not, it’s still great theater watching him play it to the audience. He has an older song called “Everybody’s in a Band,” so he is nothing if not observational.
Like a lot of his outings, Wednesday’s show could be enjoyed on a lot of different levels. Clockwise was his usual showman self; his new backing band is ace. He was abetted by a group of background singers called This Choir Kills Fascists; they were dressed in hastily conceived white “uniforms” with rope sashes that suggested Legionnaires who had to hock their decorative parts for beer money. Ostensibly, the comedy part of the variety show. But performing from a side platform while Clockwise’s quartet manned the main stage, they nailed their parts, adding requisite cinema to the songs.
The up-tempo material off Clockwise’s last release “The Socialite” infused the crowd with a spastic energy, while his new songs aimed squarely for epic rock territory and often red-lined into sensory overload, not that too many complained. The only rough spot was a false start on the new single “Steam Dream,” an indie-power-ballad in which the singer laments that he’s losing his steam. Clockwise is not, but as you marvel at what he slings against the walls and what sticks, you wonder whether he’ll ever come to a boil.