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[whitespace] Sunk in Suburbia

Sick Shift show affirms that suburban culture produces mediocre music

By David Espinoza

YOU KNOW you're getting old when an average punk band does a cover of Depeche Mode's "Policy of Truth" and you seem to be the only one in the room who knows the words. Perhaps the blank expressions from the pods of SC teens at the Catalyst Friday night had more to do with the well-intended but ultimately lame rendition that Santa Barbara's Sick Shift dealt the 10-year-old song. Either way, it was the closest thing the semimetal, semipunky quartet came to a saving grace, and even that opportunity was blown as they kept referring to the tune as their "gay song."

George Carlin once said, "The only good thing to ever come from religion was the music." To play off that, the only good thing to ever come from suburbia was good skateboarding, certainly not music (except for maybe Weezer). What is it about suburban culture that produces so many mediocre guy bands like Sick Shift? When folks say 15-minutes-of-fame genres like ska are up, one has to wonder, what's responsible for sinking it? Look no further than suburbia for bleaching out the struggle and insurgency of city culture--all the Sublime rip-off bands prove the point. On the other hand, better to be a well-financed, middle-class musician than a well-financed, trench coat-sporting, middle-class NRA supporter with a chip on his shoulder, I suppose.

Take No Prisoners

Compared to the opening bands Friday at the Catalyst, former SC residents the Preteens took no prisoners Saturday at the Four-Eighteen Project along with Tenth of Always. Anyone unfamiliar with the source of the Preteens' name could easily speculate after seeing Dennis-the-Menace-guitarist Laura Davis and bassist Cristina Espinosa, who both look too young to ride an electric bike. It's only after you notice their tattoos and the confidence with which they approach their music that it becomes apparent the Preteens are in their 20s. Unlike their more readily agreeable, almost cutesy openers Tenth of Always (pink guitars and bittersweet vocals), the Preteens fall closer to early-'90s Fugazi-styled post-punk. The Sleater-Kinney comparison may inevitably pop up, but it's a tenuous link, as the Preteens play power chords hard and fast as opposed to dissonant semiexperimental leads.

Anchoring the band was timekeeper Bert Garibay who whipped out incredibly tight drum rolls like a minihurricane. While Davis and Espinosa traded off on lead vocals on the tunes, they both could have used some spit and polish. The two moments when the Preteens really shone came when they delivered a tirade against Los Gatos appropriately called "Los Gatos," and the sassy riot girl punk encore, "Red Rover."

Local Bands

Looks like the word is spreading about the so-called "greatest band you've never heard," Blueprint, since it sold out the Aptos Club Friday (Jan. 25)--not bad for its second in-town gig, eh? Hey ladies, rockabilly hound dogs the Lee Maverick Band are looking for a new female guitarist. Yes, this is the same crew that includes former Buddy's Riot stand-up bass madman Ezra (who is apparently also in every rock-a-psycho-billy band in Northern California).

Sin In Space, Pedestrian, Bentar and Amortafera play the Four-Eighteen Project Thursday (Jan. 31). The Broke will be playing the opening slot at the Aptos Club this Friday (Feb. 1).

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From the January 30-February 6, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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