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Notes From the Underground

This Punk Rock's Got Me Drinkin':
Local barflys, punks and security guards get a double shot of punk--straight to the head

ONE LOCAL WATERING HOLE has managed to survive downtown by providing a "down home" alternative to a college pick-up scene, and that's The Asti Cafe. While The Avenue next door has yet to open its large new upstairs space to local bands, the Asti has been letting them cram equipment in a corner and play with increasing regularity. While it is a shame that these shows (featuring Buddys Riot and Vessel in recent months) are open only to those 21 and over, in sparse times like these we can only hope that the trickle-down phenomenon will prove more effective than it has for the U.S. economy. The greater the visibility for local bands, the more likely they'll end up on an all-ages set list in the future.

Last Thursday, Political Silence drowned out the notes of "Friends in Low Places" on the jukebox and replaced them with loud punk rock that hovered between the melodic and the metallic--a sound not unusual for the genre, but rare enough in SC to draw many older punks out from their hiding places. The little-seen local band was at its catchiest when its girl buddy came up and did vocals, doubling the lyrical tempo and adding a spark that went missing as soon as she left. The payment for a marathon set at the Asti? As much beer as the band can drink, I hear.

The drunken carousal picked up where it left off Friday night at UCSC's Stevenson College, where an impressive word-of-mouth posse of local and out-of-town punks amassed, looking as out of place in the pristine courtyards as Bjork on a back-patch. The show was intended to proceed through six bands, including would-be headliners Subincision from the East Bay.

Unfortunately, the downtrodden security guards once again had to break up fights, a continuing the saga from the previous weekend's campus show. Same program, different actors. The show, of course, was broken up as well. Troublemakers and their cohorts--everybody, that is--were quickly shooed off of campus.

The only dose of music was served by the pathetic drunken splendor of Puke, a drunk-punk band (in the most severe sense of the term) with two local members. While the rest of the band huddled around the safety of the drum set, its singer launched himself into the audience, losing both boots in a manner of seconds and spending a lot more time groaning face down on the floor than singing coherently. I laughed until my face hurt, but some of the younger kids were understandably shocked at such a display of pathos.

After the show was transplanted to a punk house, Chemical Imbalance and Subincision finally got to play in a more appropriate environment, and both sounded great. And when Puke came back for an encore, people cheered and rolled around in the beer and blood, just like they're supposed to.

Retail Update

Baseline Records will close its doors for good this Friday, and rumor has it that Streetlight Records won't occupy the paint store across from the Metro Station downtown until sometime in summer. Chuck from Good Riddance is planning to open a store in town soon, so look out for what should be a new source of punk records and local support. If you can't make it to San Jose, remember that Revolution Records in Felton also carries punk and indie stuff and can do special orders. But until such a time as we have a new stable spot in town, the bulletin board at Baseline will be missed as a resource. Be sure to call me with show information at 423-9498.


Puke plays the Asti Cafe on Thursday (free, 9pm). On Friday, Blind Spot plays at the UCSC's Whole Earth (free, 5pm). On Saturday, The Audience plays with Olympia's Long Hind Legs (with members of Unwound) and The Thrones (with members of The Melvins) (7:30pm, look for fliers). Also on Saturday, The Mr. T Experience, Pansy Division and Chixdiggit play the SC Vets Hall. At The Drive Inn from Texas play with locals Rally 200 and The Drastics on Sunday in town (look for fliers).
Arwen Curry

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From the February 27-March 5, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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