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Saturday's Mudhoney show at the Rio proved the last generation's still got it.

Twenty years separated 1988's Superfuzz Bigmuff from this summer's The Lucky Ones, but judging from their performance at the Rio Saturday night, Mudhoney hasn't changed much. Mark Arm still flails with graceful spacticity while alternately growling and screeching; Steve Turner still plays the exact wrong notes and chords perfectly and way too loud; Dan Peters still drums with such scary precision that it seems he's forgotten that he's in a punk band, and, with the help of the new guy, bassist Guy Maddison, he actually creates a groove. And they all still seem to be gleefully pissed off.

For longtime fans, the show was an inspiration. Probably for the kids who came to see the openers, too.

When they first roared out of Seattle, a new word (the unfortunate "grunge") had to be coined to describe what Mudhoney played. It was as though these kids were too ambitious for punk's Neanderthal simplicity and too sly for heavy metal's ridiculous lyrics, so they stripped both of their pretensions (and their silly costumes) and created a sound that took over the world. These are the guys who inspired Kurt Cobain, and a couple of their former band mates went on to form Pearl Jam, but for some of us, Mudhoney was always the coolest. And on Saturday--from their blistering new anthem "(The past makes no sense, the future looks tense) I'm Now" to the timeless "Touch Me I'm Sick," they showed they still have it. (Eric Johnson)

Block of Rock
Indie music has found a home in Santa Cruz and it's at the intersection of Seabright and Soquel avenues. Since Crepe Place owner Adam Bergeron bought the French pancake restaurant a year and a half ago, he's turned it into a steady rock and folk bar that has seen more than 150 bands get down in 2008. Across the street at the Rio Theatre, the freshly renovated venue has hosted some of indie rock's most revered names, including Neko Case, Jenny Lewis and Stars. At this weekend's Mudhoney show at the Rio, a contingent of Crepe Place employees were among the crowd of old-school grungers and new-school hipsters. The cooks, bartenders and servers were celebrating their year-end Christmas party and had a chance to reflect on what's been a revolutionary year for rock on the 1100 block of Soquel Avenue.

"This year has been amazing. Really, better than I ever could have thought it would be," said Bergeron, who took care of booking the Mudhoney show. "On nights where there is a Crepe Place show and a Rio show, this whole area kind of comes alive. It's its own little scene."

The partnership between Bergeron and Rio owner Laurence Bedford over the Mudhoney show is an example of what both see as good friends helping each other out. For Bedford, the indie renaissance taking place on this small stretch of Eastside storefronts will only gain momentum come next year, which he'll kick off with grunge icons the Meat Puppets Jan. 16. Rock on, people. (Curtis Cartier)

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