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Notes From the Underground

[whitespace] The Universal Sell-Out:
House music next in line for the mainstream

I DID SOMETHING very impious on the eve of the last Lord's Day--I laughed in church. Well, not exactly, but I did find myself snickering at some kids dancing in front of a mirror at the Blue Lagoon. It was much the equivalent of a stranger to the scene getting a few laughs at an audience of some eager young punk pups or chuckling at swing dancers in full regalia.

A closer investigation of the Blue's house regular Yuma Tripp, aka DJ Tripp, spinning house and techno, impressed on me that some eerily familiar issues to the punk scene surface in the dance world. DJ Tripp spins a basic, danceable style on Sunday nights, with apocalyptic climaxes that subside into ... more beats. He generously shares his time with visiting DJs who add their own two cents to the mix, like DJ Poohbear, who mixes an odder variety of beats with deeper bass thumps and higher, lighter mixes.

I interrogated a small group of DJs, primarily trying to figure out what the point was--to keep people dancing or to "mix what you feel." I gathered that this underground subculture, originally created by devoted individuals for a select audience--has been quickly co-opted by mainstream media and is in the throes of an ongoing internal debate about "selling out," and constantly divides itself like a great amoeba over subtle stylistic differences. Local DJs also feel the scarcity of venues--most fans are too young for bars, they say. Hmm, remind you of anything?
Arwen Curry

It's an Earful

I like songs clocking in under two minutes. Vincent's Ear offers songs that tread close to the dangerous four-minute territory. The band's new album, Agua, does rock, but it's not with the simple gratification that one gets from, say, the first four Ramones albums. Agua is an acquired taste that gets refreshingly better after each listen.

Despite the occasional whiny, Seattle-like symptoms on "Cheap Hotel," the songs still manage to work. Singer Michael's vocals sound magnificent on a flat-out rocker like "I Reckon," and turn absolutely soulful on "Lush."

I'm always leery of a rock band that has a sax in it--I envision that Boardwalk scene from Lost Boys with the cheesy singer/saxophonist belting out "I Still Believe." Ugh, the pain. Don't fret, though, this sax doesn't suck and fits in within these constructs just like drummer Peter's pinpoint, all-star percussion work. The moody "Drowning," with its beautiful extended intro, remains my favorite track. Few local bands can create a certain ambiance throughout a single song, but Vincent's Ear manages to nail down a mystical feeling throughout each song. Vincent's Ear, P.O. Box 33, Freedom, 95019-0033.
Matt Koumaras


On Thursday, the What Nots, Exploding Crustaceans and Thumbs Down play at the Felton Community Center (8pm, $3).

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From the March 26-April 1, 1998 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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