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[whitespace] Righteous Babes

An Ani approval, apocalypse and the daring, dueling vocals of the Dance Hall Crashers come to town

By David Espinoza

First off, an Ani alert. Tracy Lea Lawson reports that things are looking good for a Santa Cruz show with righteous babe Ani DiFranco in April. More details as they're available.

And speaking of righteous babes (and everything between that and glam rock), 7 Days After: A Postapocalypticabaret packed in a decent-sized crowd at the SC Vets Hall Jan. 7. Or at least, at various points of the night, every seat was taken--though it often seemed it was by performers and their friends. No matter, given that the cast was about the size of a professional baseball team. Where else were they to sit?

As multi-act shows go, the quality of entertainment really depends on who's onstage, and 7 Days After certainly had its hits as well as misses. There was the deep soulful voice of Molly Fleming backed up by Ashley Anderson on guitar doing a gritty cover of "Ain't No Sunshine," and then there was the poorly rehearsed, barely amusing Twinkie skit where two waiters as a contest attempted to shove Twinkies down the throat of an "audience member." It was like being forced to watch an MTV spring break special minus the bikinis.

The house band deserves credit for providing some creative shoe-gazer tunes even if they didn't follow the depressive indie-rock tradition of occupying a small space in a corner on stage. (Call me old-fashioned, but I thought the purpose of house bands was to fill in for the time it takes to get the next act going.) Even more inspiring was their ability to change outfits and names each time they got on stage (the Asspiders, Chocolate, Broccoli Bear, etc.), lending new meaning to the phrase "indulgent self-mockery."

Revenge of the Brunettes

Down a ways on Pacific Avenue, the Dance Hall Crashers whipped things up on the Palookaville dance floor. Though there is absolutely no evidence to back up this claim, I firmly believe there was a conspiracy to undermine the DHC's prominence in the California ska-punk scene by a certain blond-fronted Orange County rival band who will remain anonymous.

No doubt, the joke is on the rival band if they think they can hold down the DHC. For over 11 years now, the quintet has been going strong, releasing over six albums, with no signs of slowing down. Like many of their contemporaries, the Dance Hall Crashers have long since moved beyond the premise of ska, opting for more of a pop-punk feel. What's always made them stand out, though, has been the dueling vocals of Elyse Rogers and Karina Schwarz, both of whom always have energy to burn on stage.

The Jan. 7 show was no exception as Rogers and Schwarz wiggled about, posing like the pink ladies from Grease and getting saucy with the audience. The set included new material like "Cat Fight" and old like "Othello." Due to their voices giving out--or perhaps just wanting to have some fun with their fans--Rogers and Schwarz brought up five folks from the audience to sing "He Wants Me Back," and ended the night as they always do with 1989's "Dance Hall Crashers Tonight."

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From the January 12-19, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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