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Notes From the Underground
By Arwen Curry

[whitespace] Sucking Up:
Bad Monkey release show was a blast and a reunion

THIS YEAR'S Santa Cruz Still Sucks! release show--once again a benefit for the youth shelter Above the Line--seemed to have lost some of its independent spirit at first look. On Sunday night Palookaville was equipped with all the typically dehumanizing rules and regulations of a stadium show--I told you kids, no standing on the sidewalk, ticket please, step to the left, it's search time, no "ins and outs." A sign taped to the window bluntly proclaimed "We Got No Alcohol." The explanation for rigid protocol and the hefty red-suited security was that the venue opened its doors to anyone 13 and over for this show, and it made sense in this age of liability and anxiety.

The lineup featured eight local bands that contributed to Bad Monkey Records' December release. While local darlings Good Riddance, Fury 66 and Slow Gherkin didn't top the bill, the house was still packed to the smoke-free gills. Between the hyped-up clumps of excited teenagers, a long series of reunion embraces could be observed between band members and other longtime friends and fans. The number of sentimental faces was significant and heartening.

Buddys Riot kicked off the show right on time. The three-piece band--whose main flaw has always been taking itself a bit too seriously for its lighthearted boogie--overcompensated on the frivolity with great success, introducing a bona fide DJ on stage to mix over the songs. I laughed out loud at the effect of sampling over staunchly organic psychobilly--the effort was ballsy and surprisingly effective.

Playing only 20-minute sets, the bands rushed on and off the stage. The Crustaceans and What-Nots stayed truer to their respective precedents, and both flew right over the heads of a bunch of kids up front waiting for something, anything, fast enough to mosh to.

The good sound engineering took a nosedive during Reliance's set, for some reason, leaving an unpleasant assault of snare and vocals and denying the guitarist the fruit of his obviously fervent efforts, but the kids didn't seem to care.

P.A.W.N.S. played a cocky and impressive set with almost flawless timing. Up next, Soda Pop, posh (like that one Spice Girl) in suits and ties, made a ferocious comeback--vocalist Cristina picked up intensity throughout the first songs and carried it through to the end (points also awarded to Xolotl on guitar for his gangly youth jumps). Political Silence and Riff Raff finished off the night.

The general feeling, for fans and bands alike, seemed to be wonderment and relief that such a gathering was still possible in such an isolated and dreary winter as this long one has been.

Upcoming

On Thursday, the Violent Femmes play at Stanford University and Siren Six, Monkey and Kongo Shock play at the Catalyst (8pm, $6.50, all ages). On Friday, Psychosomatic, the Vigilantes and the Jon Benet Stranglehold play at Ground Zero in Salinas (6pm, $3, call 800/563-0059, ext. 3825 for details).

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From the January 22-28, 1998 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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