The New Bourgeoisie

It started around half past 8 Saturday night at a hazy apartment on Roanoke. Mitch Rich met me outside. He was wearing tight red pants, a red shirt, a black jacket and a black tie (regular, not skinny). With high cheekbones, a mop of orange hair and lips made for microphones, cigarettes and neckin’, he resembled a young Sting.

He led me inside, where the rest of his band, the Rich Boys, and eight to 10 other cool kids were hanging out, drinking beer, listening to records and gearing up to tie one on.

Heard of these guys? You will.

They’ve only been playing out for the past six months or so. Last of the V8s singer Ryan Mattes told me about them a few weeks ago because his band had booked the Boys to play with them and Wichita’s badass Black Gasoline that Saturday at the Record Bar.

So I did something I’d never done before: Acting on a hunch, I made plans to hang out before, during and after the show. I committed to partying with a band I’d never seen based on (1) Mattes’ recommendation; (2) the Boys’ MySpace profile; and (3) a phone conversation with Mitch Rich, from which I ascertained that his shit was for real.

Executive summary: Whoa.

At the preparty, I felt like some kind of metrosexual douchebag, genetically inferior for not having long hair. That was just the beginning. I was impressed, too, that there were chicks at the party. I hadn’t realized until then how rare it is for local all-dude bands to get ladies interested in them outside of the concert context.

The atmosphere was all sex and youth, especially after bassist and co-founder (with Mitch) Troy Diesel showed up with more friends and got gooey on the couch with his girlfriend, right between drummer Davey Hollywood and guitarist Mike Wild (all stage names, if you hadn’t guessed). Carl Redcorn, who rounds out the band, was resplendent that night in yellow trousers.

Whereas most kids this age would have chosen warm-up music by Hawthorne Heights or some crap, these boys spun the Stones, the MC5 and AC/DC on a faux antique record player.

There’s not a full set of high school diplomas among the Rich Boys, and it’s puzzling that they didn’t end up more like their peers — i.e., pierced and listening to screamo.

Part of that’s because Troy lived in California for a while, hanging out with a band called Slither Sleaze, which was all about good, scuzzy ’70s rock. Mitch would visit him regularly, soaking up the good shit, which is all coming through in Rich Boys’ music. The others, well, they’re into it, too.

“We got together to play rock and roll, and this is just what came out,” Mike (or someone) told me.

After an orderly load-in at the Record Bar, the show began on time, and the Rich Boys tore into it like old pros. Mitch was all swagger and jerk, spry and nasty in a pair of Wayfarer-style shades. He’s got a snarl like Johnny Thunders. In fact, the New York Dolls are probably the Boys’ sonic godfathers.

Sure, I was set up to like it, but they played their asses off. Redcorn was particularly impressive, squeezing out clean, confident, loud leads while whipping his guitar around and falling to his knees half the time.

And there was something righteous about Mitch standing up there and introducing a song by saying, “I was drunk since the day I was born — take it, Davey!” Then the band plowed into it, and I realized that the declaration was actually the name of the song.

Like the band itself, the lyrics are cleverly bratty and hormonal. Take the chorus (not to mention the title) of “Corporate Whore”: Looks so fake, looks so good/Corporate whore, I couldn’t ask for more. Or “Jesus”: Killing in the street, bodies in the gutter/Jesus Christ must be a mean motherfucker.

After their set, the Boys stuck around and raged to Black Gasoline (unexpectedly great desert-style rock, in the vein of Queens of the Stone Age, but meaner) and the inimitable V8s. Mitch, especially, was going werewolf.

Afterpartying ensued at a tucked-away apartment complex. One of my clearest memories is dancing to David Bowie with Mitch around a glass coffee table. I went home at daybreak, almost 12 hours after the ruckus began.

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