Thursday, October 1, 2009
When The Hot Toddies performed at Jose’s this past May, it was hard to know where to look. Onstage, the quartet of fetching females was decked out in elegant dresses as if they had prom dates picking them up after the show. They also looked like they were having as much fun as a bunch of best friends at a slumber party as they played an exuberant take on The Beatles’ “Please Please Me.” During their own “Seattle,” the crowd blushed as guitarist/vocalist Erin Skidmore sang: “On the road, it’s such a battle/ When I go out, I want to shake my rattle/ It gets so hard without someone to straddle/ I get so horny when I’m in Seattle.”
But someone else was vying for the audience’s attention. Just feet from the stage was an older man pulling out spastic-but-impressive dance moves and pointing energetically at the band members. He also would look into the almost-packed club and shrug his shoulders in disbelief at those who were not dancing so frantically (i.e. everyone else.)
Luckily, for those getting whiplash looking back and forth from stage to dancer, The Hot Toddies’ Jessica Wright solved their problem. The perky multi-instrumentalist abandoned her spot behind her keyboard and hopped off the stage with a tambourine to dance with the group’s newfound super fan.
For those who missed The Hot Toddies’ May appearance at Jose’s, the quartet does a party-friendly mix of bouncy New Wave, spunky punk and music that recalls ’60s girl groups, complete with overlapping vocals. “The Surf Song” alternates between ferocious surf guitar and kitschy keyboard, while “Rocker Girl” lays B-52s style vocals over a dirty guitar riff. Meanwhile, “Sugar Daddy” subverts the innocence of poppy girl groups with slyly suggestive lyrics including: “Sugar daddy, sugar daddy/ Don’t want no veggie burger/ Gimme the all-meat patty.”
Between lots of good-natured laughs and reminiscing, Skidmore and drummer Sylvia Hurtado reveal that the band’s real major influence is not The Shangri-Las or The Ronettes but a little Liverpool band called The Beatles. Onstage, The Hot Toddies have been known to do not only the aforementioned early gem “Please Please Me” but also Rubber Soul’s “You Won’t See Me.”
“We also like to sing ‘Oh! Darling’ when we get drunk at parties,” Skidmore says.
The fun-loving band appropriately began during an alcohol-soaked vacation in Rosarito Beach, Mexico. There, in 2004, Skidmore and bassist/vocalist Heidi Bodeson started writing songs together. The next year, Wright and Hurtado joined the group. Hurtado reveals the motive behind the move: “The reason we started the band is because we wanted an excuse to hang out together.”
Their close friendships have probably made their recent tours less grueling. In April, The Hot Toddies did a 10-day tour of the United Kingdom with Foxes!, an indie pop outfit that plays at the group’s Saturday show at Jose’s and their Sunday performance at Big Sur’s Fernwood. They also spent a month this summer touring most of the U.S., opening half of the dates for the long running pop punk band The Queers.
Currently, The Hot Toddies are working on a follow-up to the 2007 CD Smell the Mitten. Skidmore and Hurtado say their new album is going to include lots more shredding and soloing. Then, the two pals burst into giggles.
THE HOT TODDIES AND FOXES! play 9pm Saturday, Oct. 3, at Jose’s, 638 Wave St., Monterey. $5. 655-4419. They also play 9pm Sunday, Oct. 4, at Fernwood Bar, located 24 miles south of Carmel on Highway 1, Big Sur. No cover. 667-2422.