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Sunday School in Session

It's too early to tell if the Catalyst has another winner of a night on its hands, but judging by the ample turnout to the 16-and-over "Sunday School" show featuring The Expendables, Epicure and Drive, things are looking pretty damn good.

Drive kicked off the show with a surprisingly strong set, picking up where Soundgarden left off with a bunch of drama-infused hard rocking, but with thundering double bass drums, ripping Jackson guitar solos (and by the looks of the new Jackson Guitars/Jenna Jameson ad campaign, it seems that some marketing genius finally figured out that headbangers like porn) and demonic roaring vocals nudging things ever closer to raging death metal territory. Not really one for Incubus-style metal ballads myself, I still can't help but admit that Drive do a damn fine job pouring on the emotion when they slow it down a notch.

And then there was Epicure, an up-and-coming local band that seems to be gigging at least three times a week these days, opening up for Sambada on New Year's Eve, playing the Sunday School show, and even setting up to open for Dubwize dollar night at the Catalyst on Jan. 7. But I have a feeling that they were most in their element on Sunday with the rowdy young crowd that repeatedly broke into a mosh pit. Two of the trees in the atrium went down, as did two of the kids in the pit, who banged their excited little heads on the side of the fountain in the middle. One of the trees even knocked into the dinghy suspended above the crowd, making it rock and sway like any boat disrupted by a sea of young moshers would.

But Epicure pushed on without hesitation, playing a sort of surf-rock blend of rap and reggae, with breathy, irie vocals mixed up with some tight rhymes that are, unfortunately, unintelligible live. But they come across clearly and cleanly on their excellent debut album Forgotten Pacific, a balanced and varied ode to drinking, smoking and women. A few quotes from their bio will suffice to elucidate this band's nuanced surf-ilosophy: "If you're looking for [lead singer] Chris [Huff], you can most likely find him rapping to himself in the car, watching a tape of the Simpsons, or passed out after drinking an entire box of wine." OK, so maybe they're not refined in any sense of the word "epicurean," but taste is so overrated anyway, and so is moderation. "Whether it's pimping your girlfriend or ripping a bass solo, Jonathan [Spielvogal] gives it his all at all times." Atta boy, Jonathan! Unfortunately, while he was giving it his all carousing at the Aptos Club a couple Fridays ago, when his car was broken into and meticulously looted of a bass cabinet, amp, two bass guitars, cymbals and stands (anyone with information about said equipment should email epicuresc@hotmail.com, no questions asked). But despite all the excessive lifestyle poses, Forgotten Pacific rewards a good, deep listening with plenty of thoughtful lyrics.

The Expendables closed out the evening, once again sweeping the kids into a few raging mosh pits and delivering a characteristically clean and rowdy set. To be honest, I'm getting a bit frustrated waiting for these kids to make it really big--it's like watching Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka getting hammered by both the Iron Shiek and Nikolai Volkoff while the ref is distracted elsewhere. It's just not fair.

Cain and Able

I finally got a chance to check in on a Chris Cain show over at Moe's Alley, and I'm here to tell you that, yes, everything you've heard is true. Cain's voice is low and gutteral and totally disembodied from his diminutive human form, and he plays like an absolute wild man. His band (and his keyboard player in particular) rips the throat out of the notion that they are just a vehicle for Cain's searing guitar solos. It's no wonder why he packs 'em in at Moe's so often.

Upcoming

Rosalie Sorrels performs at Henfling's on Jan. 7. Modesto Brisno Quartet perform at the Kuumbwa on Jan. 8. Marley's Ghost performs at Henfling's on Jan. 8. John McCutcheon performs at the Resource Center for Nonviolence on Jan. 9. Oka Road, Paul Kaspian, Kevin Costa and Kelly Klein perform at 120 Union on Jan. 10. Brother Down and Tom Curren perform at the Rio Theatre on Jan. 10.

Mike Connor

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From the January 7-14, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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