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Is This Boredom I'm Feeling?

Out of the three acts I saw last Thursday night at the Civic and the Catalyst--Ziggy Marley, Spearhead and The Breeders--only one sucked. I don't want to be rude and single any one band out, so consider the following an attempt at fair, balanced, and above all, vague reporting of that evening's music.

The Band That Sucked (which shall remain nameless) had its work cut out for it from the get-go, mainly because of the reputation of The Frontperson preceding her/him. Growing up as the only offspring of His/Her Father and Her/His Father's Wife, the frontperson of this band went on to capitalize on his/her father's success as little more than a tribute band. Making matters worse, she/he sold out to The Gap back in 2001, alienating fans who are sensitive to that sort of thing, and further confusing others last Thursday by wearing camouflage fatigues that could have just as easily been purchased at an army surplus store. Besides, there weren't even any bushes onstage, rendering the performer completely visible. Worse yet, the music they played was largely uninspired covers peppered with terrible alt-rock/reggae fusions, but with a few notable exceptions in the mix, including a feel-good song about a rainbow in the sky. In terms of movement and energy onstage, though, the band was D.O.A.

In stark contrast, The Next Band to Perform (which shall remain nameless) exuded charisma and uplifting energy, like Red Bull in human form, to great effect: thousands of hands in the air, wavin' 'em like they really, really care about social justice in the world. Alas, I reluctantly made my way out of the crowded venue to go catch The Third Act of the Evening (which shall also remain nameless). I just so happened to walk in while they were playing the megahit that put them on the international map, the one that is--but is not--a reggae song about a vintage, oversized piece of ammunition. Much to the delight of Pixies fans, they also played a song that is putatively about an oversized--or, gigantic, as it were--phallus. Is the song really about that? I don't know, but it's fun to speculate about that sort of thing, especially when it comes to another song they played, "Happiness Is a Warm Gun." The heroin reading is by far the most interesting and convincing--the "warm gun" being a needle full of cooked heroin and water--especially in light of one of the band member's well-publicized drug habits, which she/he has since given up for knitting. Seriously. But their interpretation of John Lennon's surreal little ditty is absolutely fucking brilliant for the way that it robs the end chorus of its triumphant finale (the high), and replaces it with a stunned and sparse little ending that sounds less like a pop song and more like a junkie right after a fix, eyes rolled back in bliss, mumbling a little homage to the source of her satisfaction, and just sort of trails off ...

How to Rock a Party

Turntable virtuoso Mix Master Mike fucked it up on the wheels of steel last Saturday night at the Catalyst, all by himself, with nary a Beastie Boy in sight (but there were plenty of B-boys). His performance was about 326 times better than his last show in town on a double bill with Rahzel. Back then, Mike was all about the scratching and beat-juggling that made him famous, but his tricks sounded a bit self-indulgent after Rahzel, whose DJ was infinitely more focused on hyping up the crowd rather than showboating. But this time around, the mix was perfect for breakdancers and beat junkies alike, with plenty of old-school breaks and new-school party anthems making their way into the cut. And of course there was the signature spatterings of classic rock (Led Zeppelin, Rush, Steve Miller) and metal (White Zombie, Rage Against the Machine, Primus) that make him so cross-culturally loveable. Aww, we *heart* you, Mix Master Mike!

Upcoming

Wisdom headlines a dollar night of hip-hop at the Catalyst on March 31, but the local acts opening the show are worth more than the price of admission: along with Sayre, Coley Cole and DJ Silly Kid, Ashkon will perform a set with his live band, The Sex. Rose Hill Drive also performs.

Mike Connor

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From the March 31-April 7, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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