How the BellRays managed to come together and survive in Los Angeles is a mystery. Sounding like an amalgam of two of the greatest things to come out of Detroit -- balls-out garage punk and heartfelt soul -- you'd swear they were from some Midwestern industrial wasteland, not slick-as-plastic, ultra-image-conscious L.A. Ten years, two albums, and a couple of lineup changes later, the BellRays have not only survived, but are on the brink of something. With the blessing of MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer and garage rock king Tim Kerr (BellRays lead singer Lisa Kekaula worked with Kerr on a soul-punk side project called the Now Time Delegation, which features, among other things, a terrific Curtis Mayfield cover), the BellRays have received a good amount of acclaim. Alternative Press
recently featured them in its "best 100 bands of 2001" issue, and after touring constantly for the past few years, the BellRays have earned a reputation for winning over live audiences with their sheer power and emotion. Calling for a "soul-punk revolution," the BellRays haven't always found a line of people waiting to sign up. Their two previous performances in Cleveland were on weeknights, and as a result, the group didn't play to a packed house. However, the BellRays fared well enough that they've been upgraded for this gig, a Friday night show in the Beachland's ballroom space, headlining a bill with the Chargers Street Gang, Fireballs of Freedom, and Geraldine. The Chargers Street Gang is another band on the brink of something. After getting the chance to record an album with Kerr in Austin, Texas, the local act has been shopping its CD to various labels and is confident a record deal looms on the horizon. In the meantime, the group's been using its studio-honed skills to scare the other bands on the bill into rocking just a little bit harder.