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Beth Lisick Ordeal
Mouth Almighty wanted her. But like most major labels, the fledgling spoken-word offshoot of Mercury Records was clueless. They said, “You're rock 'n' roll, you're Patti Smith.” They were wrong.

Beth Lisick is a cynical bitch. (She says so herself.) A clearsighted suburban survivor, the poet-performer casts a cool eye on the lost and living dead of the offices, nightclubs, shopping malls, and tidy homes of delusive locales like San Jose, Silicon Valley, and Cabo San Lucas.

In last year's Monkey Girl, an uproarious collection of her work published by Manic D Press, Lisick lovingly identifies with her characters. She betrays a sympathy toward the weekend warrior who laughs at bumper stickers and really believes that “he who dies with the most toys wins.” Her sarcasm is so disarming that she can make the stupid and mundane seem somehow less pathetic by acknowledging that we've all been there (somewhere) at some point.

Beth Lisick Ordeal — with George Cremaschi (upright bass), Andrew Borger (drums, sampler), and David Cooper (vibes) — bolster the storyteller's Cheddar-sharp snapshots with suitable irony and serious grooves. Easily shifting from quirky ambience to unpretentious lounge pop to swinging/slamming jazz — Cremaschi's mad arco solo is a highlight of the live show — the Ordeal rock hard, but they ain't rock 'n' roll.

— Sam Prestianni

Beth Lisick Ordeal perform with Rube Waddell and Granfaloon Bus on Friday, April 24, at 9:45 p.m. at the Starry Plough, 3101 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. Tickets are $6; call (510) 841-2082.

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