Lualta are, as the host of “Fox Rox” (and CityBeat A&E editor) Troy Johnson put it, “bona fide rock stars-I saw the affidavit in the car.”
Or, maybe he saw it on the floor of the Fox 6 studios. Taking a page from Jimmy Fallon's line in Almost Famous-“leave a pint of blood on that stage”-Lualta singer Mike Hernandez instead left a pint of bile on the soundstage two weeks ago.
During the third take of the song “Surrey” for his band's network television performance debut, Hernandez barfed.
“Everybody hates me now, don't they?” he asked, semi-serious but with a nervous laugh, immediately after the now-infamous incident. I had the, uh, pleasure of co-hosting the show with Johnson, and had delivered the band on time-early even-at 9 a.m. But the Westerfield verdict interrupted taping on that Wednesday morning, and the band was forced to wait in the green room for three more anxious hours until they began playing. It was too much for the young, energetic sextet. So the band left the studio for a beverage break.
Or a good one, if you measure by the band's oh-so-rock ‘n roll moment on screen, or by the raucous energy they put into “Surrey”-a little Sex Pistols-on-lithium ditty that includes the portentous chorus, “We're so sick/ but it's alright.” Drummer Gabe Gamboa,, keyboardist Billy Canedo, guitarists Mike Ortiz and Delio Bacalski and (especially) bassist Cindy Milliman (who forced a smile while Hernandez whispered a mid-song, post-hurl confession in her ear) came off with an endearing mix of professionalism and mischief.
“Nobody hates you,” I assured Hernandez, “Are you kidding? This'll be great for ratings, I bet.”
Hernandez didn't seem convinced. But that hour-long lapse in confidence didn't last very long. A few nights later, during a headlining gig at the Kensington Club to promote their upcoming EP, Catapult, Hernandez was back to his old, Liam Gallagher-channeling-Jim Morrison tricks: overturning drinks as he climbed over booths and audience members, slurring profanity-laced rants at lying ex-girlfriends one minute and no one in particular the next... finally aiming one tirade at this reporter:
“This fucking guy, Will Shilling, he's the fucker that got us drunk!”,
“Every show is getting a little crazier,” Lualta's manager, Eric Casas, told me later that night, as we watched Hernandez shuffling from one audience member to another after their set, laughing at the video tape of the “Fox Rox” performance, which was looping on the monitors over the bar.
“I don't know how he's gonna top this one, though.”