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[whitespace] One-Two Punks

AFI hits hard at SC Vets Hall show

By David Espinoza

BACK-TO-BACK SHOWS IN PUNK ROCK are about as common as an episode of South Park where Kenny doesn't die--and for good reason. Few acts have the drawing power or stamina to play a venue twice in one night without losing some of their edge. Such laws of thermo-musical-dynamics do not apply to East Bay boys AFI, who dealt a ferocious punk rock one-two wallop March 26 at the Santa Cruz Vets Hall.

The reason for having two shows, as lead screamer Davey Havok explained during the first set, had to do with the Vets Hall's capacity limits, which means one show leaves a lot of kids out in the cold. Whatever. Havok could have lied and said that he was trying to create a massive deja vu experience for SC youth and it wouldn't have made a difference. Both shows sold out easily, with many of the people from the first show coming back for more.

Who can blame AFI fans, either? In concert, the band gushes energy like they were lightning rods in the middle of an apocalyptic storm. Every show seems to teeter on the chaotic, with the more daring fans flying off the stage, and the band spilling into the crowd as well. Leading the parade of high voltage angst is the snarling Tasmanian devil of a frontman Havok--who these days looks more and more like the bastard child of Robert Smith and Glen Danzig.

At both Sunday shows, AFI relied heavily on more recent material from albums like Shut Your Mouth and Open Your Eyes and last year's Black Sails in the Sunset--a sign that they are growing as a band. After their excellent 1996 sophomore album, Very Proud of Ya, which saw the departure of their original bassist and guitarist, one might think subsequent efforts wouldn't be up to par. Instead, AFI changed their style, evolving into a neo-goth/hardcore crew, complete with a more innovative and wicked sound.

It is this goth/hardcore sound that has hit a nerve with SC teens, who constituted the majority of both shows. Though I didn't catch the beginning of the "matinee" show, the second began with two jack-o'-lanterns on stage while the soundtrack from John Carpenter's Halloween played in the background. Watching Havok strike a menacing face as he asked, "Can you feel the heat rising from the floor? Can you feel the energy?" I had to think that AFI hasn't peaked yet--not by a long shot.

Pachyderm Tracks

With so much attention lavished on white rappers these days, one could almost forget that there are other groups out there vying for exposure. The folks at Asian Improv Records aren't about to let that happen. They've put out a brilliant b-boy compilation showcasing Asian American artists, as well as other big names in underground hip-hop like Medusa and Latryx. Released roughly three months ago, the 17-song Elephant Tracks is a benefit for the annual Asian Pacific Islander Student Alliance (APISA) High School Motivational Conference up at UCSC.

"It's definitely a grassroots project, we had to depend on a lot of people to do it for the cause," says producer and UCSC alumna Christine Padilla.

Palookaville Wednesday (April 5) hosts an Elephant Tracks CD release party with some of the MCs from the comp, including Zion I, DJ Rhettmatic of the Beat Junkies, and UCSC alumni AME. If you know what's good for you, you'll be there.

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From the March 29-April 5, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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