October 2006

When I say “FRESH, you say “HOT!”

Author: Jean Wharton

Jealousy is an emotion I like to steer clear of, being one of the seven deadly sins and such. However, like anyone, I am often weak and succumb to this trait. For example, when I see a guy sans shirt running the Cross Island in the heat of the South Carolina sunshine, I get jealous. I loathe the freedom of the male physique that he can run unencumbered by the binding of a sports bra and the dampness of a sweaty T-shirt. The green of my envy goes further than just gender issues. I consider myself a strong, successful and independent woman, however I am flattened like a featherweight in the ring against Mike Tyson when I see a cute and seemingly happy couple hand in hand sharing a meal. Not because I think that said happy couple has a better life than me or contributes more to the great good of society than me, but simply because they have someone with whom to spend national holidays.

On the night before one such national holiday, I ventured out to see Hilton Head Island’s answer to the No Doubt play at Riders Lounge. The Fresh Hots have been gaining plenty of local and regional attention for their fast tempo ska-pop-rock, fronted by the charismatic Bex, a blonde with not only a great voice for rock but also tremendous stage presence.

The Island had dodged another hurricane and rolled into an unusually quiet Labor Day weekend. It was no ordinary night at Riders, because the vast majority of Fresh Hots’ fans donned togas. Talk about something to be jealous of, wardrobe selection based entirely on a band’s request? That sort of power goes far beyond that displayed at hip-hop shows when the DJ calls to the crowd to throw their hands in the air and wave them like they just don’t care. Clearly, based on the number wearing Greek-inspired garb (including the four members of the band), The Fresh Hots were demanding, but indeed were both fresh and hot.

Taking the stage sometime after 11 p.m., to an uproarious crowd most of whom were crowned with laurel wreaths and wrapped carefully in bed sheets, The Fresh Hots didn’t wait a second longer to get things jamming. If anyone was there to sit quietly contemplating world peace, he or she must have quickly found the way to the door, because the band wasn’t holding anything back in the decibel department, while vocalist Bekki “Bex” Cait’s crisp song stylings were a new twist on the traditional punk sound of the band.

Together for about a year, The Fresh Hots are blended by their appreciation of classic pop rock, like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Blink 182. Undoubtedly influenced by the hugely successful No Doubt (a band also fronted by a blonde with some serious ambition), The Fresh Hots write all their own music and combine genres to create a sound that is completely original for the Lowcountry music scene.

The Fresh Hots keep it pop with guitarist David “Dax” Mohacsi, cute stage jumps and fashionable faux-hawk (the hairstyle for the man not ready to commit to a full on Mohawk). However, Randy “Rockalotta” Looman has committed to the full Mohawk, but pulls it off beautifully from behind his drum kit, banging out the beats that keep the fans jumping throughout their set. All four members are veterans of other bands, but bassist David “Davy” Masteller, the only true local of the group, is heir to the Jazz Corner and brings his diverse experience and suavity to the right side of the stage. Bex is not confined by any one side of the stage; it’s all hers for the taking. Pretty enough to be a cover girl, yet belts out her songs with serious courage, presence and guts.

The Fresh Hots are starting to gain serious notoriety, radio airplay with their song “Talk to the Hand” and a dedicated following. With the release of their first full-length CD, it won’t be long before audiences are singing Bex’s words back to her with the enthusiasm of true music fans. As a person whose musical talent ended as an eighth grade flautist and whose singing ability is scarcely heard outside of my car, I am certainly jealous of anyone with the talent to take the stage. Oh, and did I mention how good The Fresh Hots looked in togas? Especially, Dax! It takes a special kind of person to pull off a toga with a pair of Chuck Taylor Converse high tops. Once again, I’m rendered green with envy.

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