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Notes From the Underground

Fifteen Below:
Berkeley combo doesn't
live up its legacy

The members of Buddies Riot--each with his hair dyed a different color of the Irish flag in honor of Saint Patrick's--got things going with a long and rousing set at last Friday's Food Not Bombs benefit at the Basement house. The best element of their sped-up, downhome blues style was Ezra's bass playing. Twanging, twirling and thumping away at a fire-engine-red, electrified stand-up, his wild basslines led to cheers, whoops, hollers and more than one outbreak of square dancing among enthusiastic audience members.

The Muggs (formerly the Meanies) followed, with a tight, loud half-hour of punk rock angst. The vocal amplification problems that plagued their last Redroom show were righted Friday night, and their emotional, intense lyrics complimented the high-speed guitar riffs perfectly..

It was the third band, the What-Nots, that unequivocally stole the show. From the moment they launched into their first song, "Hours Wasted," mesmerizing harmonies and dizzying tempo shifts kept the crowd enthralled. Slower songs like "I'm a Girl" and "Suck Me Dry" showcased the band's songwriting ability and singer Eden's incredible vocal range..

After all this, Fifteen's performance was utterly anticlimactic. They arrived late and slammed through a sloppy, unplanned set. PA problems left singer Jeff Ott too hoarse to sing after four or five songs. The crowd was amazingly sympathetic, cheering and attempting to dance up until the very end, when the set deteriorated into a seemingly endless last-ditch instrumental with Jeff playing mysteriously Journey-like solos. I've seen Fifteen play great shows before, but by the end I was silently begging them to stop trying, and just give up and go home..

On the other hand, with a door price of three cans of vegan food, how can you complain?
Debbie Solomon

Record Review: Woodpecker

Woodpecker (7-inch, Naked Jain Records): The only other local band doing anything close to this style is probably Vincent's Ear. Intense, heavy songs reminiscent of the Melvins or maybe Nirvana's Bleach album played at 27 RPM. I liked "LoanerHeadacheTruckstopCentral," a pretty interesting number, with strange, cryptic and barely discernible lyrics: "A live cat today/Arizona wounded dawg/Tommy ran away/Tomato trash dead in perfect mold." The B-side, "Blackberry," is slower, consisting of choked, pained noise and angst.
Michael Mechanic

Upcoming

On Friday night, It and Herbert at the Redroom (21-plus, 10pm). Local straightedgers .Staple. play at the Basement with Gob and the Stains (both from Canada), plus Rosenthal (all ages, 7:30pm). SF dyke-core bands Tribe 8 and Dirt Bike Gang play the Redroom on Saturday night with local rockers X-Girl 13 (21-plus, 10pm). Creature and Go Pound Salt play the SC Hotel on Sunday night with Interration and new local punk band Black Label (16-plus, 9pm). Also Sunday, Vessel rocks out with Dammit Jim at Emi's (21-plus, 10pm). Tix are now available for 10 Foot Pole, Bouncing Souls, Screw 32 and Reliance (16 and over) at the SC Hotel on April 3.
Michael Mechanic

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From the March 21-27, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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