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A lot of women like the Dragons — so many that even though I've staked out a prime spot, I regret running outside for a smoke — when I return, 10 minutes before show time, the edge of the stage has turned into a bar dotted with purses and cocktails; lifted high heels demarcate individual territory. It's a pretty nice crowd: some smile bemusedly while others bang heads to Lord Howler's metal-cured mayhem. This may be the best rock 'n' roll band in San Diego.

Which sounds disloyal to the Dragons, but no one who gets the band's ethos — an ecstatic mess of Dead Boys/Ramones/Dolls thunder — should be offended. Tonight, Mario's "31st birthday," it compensates for lapses between shows by carrying on like it's the last — or first. The pileup of fans bounces in place, screaming along with unintelligible lyrics it knows by heart. The heat's about Jarrod's percussive smashes with Ken's Johnny Thunders shrapnel and Mario's disgruntled brat vocals. But the Performer of 2010 award goes to Steve, who's playing his bass with two broken fingers on his fretting hand (he tells me a shopping cart landed on his digits, peeling two fingernails back — "and I didn't even want to go shopping"). His extra mile includes kissing several women and falling on his back in a sea of legs without missing a note.

  • Concert: The Dragons and Lord Howler
  • Venue: Eleven
  • Date: November 20
  • Seats: Up front, to the left
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