Copyright 1998 Times Mirror Company
Los Angeles Times
December 24, 1998, Thursday, Home Edition
SECTION: Calendar; Part F; Page 59; Entertainment Desk
LENGTH: 301 words
HEADLINE: POP MUSIC REVIEW;
BENEFIT CONCERT IS A STUDY IN LIGHT AND DARK
BYLINE: MARC WEINGARTEN
The primary objective of a benefit concert is to solicit as much money as possible for the cause at hand, but from a creative standpoint, modesty can be a virtue. Such was the case at the Roxy on Tuesday, when a clutch of Los Angeles musicians came bearing acoustic guitars for the ninth annual Gimme Shelter homeless benefit for St. Joseph's Center in Venice.
Although their approaches ranged from downcast folk to polished pop, all of the artists were bound together by their love of dryly sardonic material. Rangy singer-songwriter Peter Himmelman established the evening's tone during his opening set with an ode to kids' food. He was followed by Wes Cunningham's frilly yet forceful songs about romantic dysfunction.
That theme carried over into Pete Droge's set of hangdog roots-rock. Accompanied by the Heartbreakers' guitarist Mike Campbell, Droge climaxed with "If You Don't Love Me (I'll Kill Myself)," the first hit song to seriously ponder suicide as an alternative to unrequited love.
Newcomer Duke Daniels avoided the dark side with a set of spirited, laconic country-rock that hinted at John Hiatt and J.J. Cale. And former Toad the Wet Sprocket frontman Glen Phillips revealed major potential as a solo artist with terse narratives that shrugged at life's absurdities.
The show's last third showcased some of the more sublime singing voices to be found in the vast L.A. music scene. Aimee Mann and her husband, Michael Penn, delved into baroque, literate pop in separate sets, but their performances were nearly overshadowed by comedian Paul Thompkins, who delivered between-song "substitute" monologues for Mann and Penn that captured the mock sincerity of singer-songwriter types to a T. Keb' Mo' closed out the evening with a long set of earthy, finger-picked blues.