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Notes From the Underground

Fleein' a Lackadaisical Scene:
A troublesome lull quiets Santa Cruz underground as local do-it-yourselfers jump ship

THE LEVEL OF SPONTANEOUS ENERGY seems to me to be swiftly abandoning the Cruz, as creative locals ready to devote their free hours to the music scene jump ship at an alarming rate, many discouraged by the lack of support. Independent stores survive--or don't--under the constant threat of closure, and cheap all-ages shows are becoming a distant memory, even though their heyday was just six months ago.

Suddenly, it seems the resurgence of this punk-rock thing isn't coughing up the bucks the MTV-retail nation promised the fragments of a subculture that was exposed and invaded ruthlessly. Hundreds of young men--inspired by a phase in their lives that not only sanctioned physical aggression as a natural outlet but promised instant hipness with a variety of punk fashion statements (most of which poorly mimicked the genuine political statements they were intended to be)--have yet to prove themselves useful to the real punk community.

Instead of erupting with fresh ideas or picking up the hard, often unappreciated work where others left off, many of these kids head for the proverbial hills--leafing through copies of Spin or, more disturbingly, Maximumrocknroll, in search of the latest in cool. Meanwhile, those driven to combine creative energy with dissenting ideas, and people willing to support a space for others to do so, are disappearing swiftly off the face of the earth like that fuzzy little owl in the Pacific Northwest. Only this time, those responsible are clothed in spikes and mohawks.

But all is not lost. Out-of-town promoters are beginning to recognize SC talent even if most locals are too bored or distracted to support anything. A small label called Humble Merchandise in King City has released a ten-band, ten-song compilation tape that looks interesting, including locals Reliance, as well as other Monterey Bay Area bands like Insist, Chances Are, and S.T.U.B. (Small Town Ugly Bastards), a great King City ska-core band with triumphant energy and seeming infinite ranks of horn players. (You can get the comp from Nick Insist at 818/993-2390.)

Depth Charge Records in San Francisco also has shown an appreciation for local talents, some of whom chose to head for the big city to be heard. This independent label has just released a 20-song comp with bands that have been regulars at the Eagle's Drift In, a bar South of Market. Scott Rogers, responsible for the compilation, seems to have an attitude more SC locals would be wise to emanate: Support music you care about. The comp is replete with fine bands, including Fuck Face, the Workin' Stiffs, Hod Rod Shopping Cart and Strychnine. It also has two songs each by local fodder Mock and Spaceboy, so check this out for sure. The Bar Feeders songs on here are perhaps some of the most entertaining, so also look for their upcoming CD on the same label. (Depth Charge Records, 440 Haight St. #56, SF, CA, 94117.)

Upcoming

Fiendmaster Freak plays at the Asti on Thursday (21 plus, free). On Saturday, SF's Half Empty plays locally with Junk Sick Dawn and Soda Pop Fuck You (look for fliers). Two all-ages shows on Jan. 31: AFI, Fury 66, Jughead's Revenge, Riff Raff and The Force play the Vet's Hall, and Gorehounds, Buddys Riot, Junk Sick Dawn and Pillow Mint play at UCSC's Kresge Town Hall.
Arwen Curry

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From the January 16-22, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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