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[whitespace] All Hail the Hair

It's hard to imagine why the Expendables have recently received so much media attention concerning their body hair, considering everything else they've got going for them. First and foremost, there's the shining talent: Take lead guitarist Raul Bianchi's raging guitar solos, for example, or the rock-solid foundation of Adam Patterson's well-timed fills, intricate work on the high-hat and classically trained vocals. And there's the appeal: besides the band's unofficial good looks, they can switch seamlessly from reggae to nuevo-Pennywise punk and back faster than you can say "Succubus." They've got an easygoing, danceable reggae vibe cut with a metallic edge so that all the boys and girls can dance and/or mosh to their hearts' content.

There are the accolades: they were the first-place winners of the 2002 Rock Wars. There are the unprecedented preshow sellouts for "the most popular band Santa Cruz has ever had," according to Gary Tighe, who's been booking for the Catalyst since '78. Finally, there are the ladies ... always freaking the boys (and especially Geoff Weers) onstage to the point of distraction.

Yep, a music writer would have to be pretty damn shallow (and a bit perverse?) to focus on the band's body hair. Whether it be curly and course, long and straight, or short and fuzzy like the skin of a peach, who the hell cares? Never mind if they shave, wax, pluck or bleach. And to even think about perms and weaves would be tantamount to admitting that I have a rare but harmless fetish for well-groomed Sasquatches, their tall, dark and hairy bodies lumbering around the bunghole of Aptos ... Oh screw it. Take me, Bigfoot, I'm yours!

Where Was the Hip-Hop, Rahzel?

Before the Rahzel show at the Catalyst last Saturday, a friend asked me if the whole show was just going to consist of his beatboxing, now that he's gone solo from the Roots. Having seen him solo at Palookaville a couple years back, I assured him that Rahzel has plenty of flow and a DJ with great taste in feel-good old-school hip-hop in tow. D'oh!

The show started out great, with the self-proclaimed beatbox champion of the world rocking "All I Know" (a song which suffers from stomach-turning self-promotion when he rhymes about his cassettes and CDs available at Sam Goody and Blockbuster--but I digress) with gusto flow and realistic scratching sounds. He was hyped up for about the first half hour, and kept the crowd rocking accordingly with world-class, mind-blowing, superhuman beatboxing talent, laying downbeats, bass lines and lyrics all at once without a looping machine in sight. And then his "transformation" ensued. It was fun to watch Rahzel convulse and stumble across the stage as he did his Transformer human/robot shtick, but then he just wouldn't let up with the robot shit. Every time he would get things jumping, he'd stop the show to do one irritating mic check after the next, leaving everyone just standing around. He spent so much time imitating cartoons and video games without any sort of musical context that people started heckling him. "Do something!" and "Where's the Hip-Hop" were two of my favorite comments.

But worst of all, Rahzel is still trotting out that sneering, pompous horseshit about whether or not we were real hip-hop heads--as if he owned the fucking genre. Rahzel's got way too much talent to be squandering stage time on self-indulgent patter. Fortunately he closed the show on a good note with a bumping new track from his upcoming record, then he graciously thanked the crowd for coming out and went to the merch booth to sign autographs. Aww, nice Rahzel! But hopefully he'll lose the rhetoric next time around and make better use of his lyrical skills and DJ.

Upcoming

HIP-HOP: Tight Rope Walkers, Pushing Destinations, Sokrates the Virgo, Enzyme and Brad at the Mediterranean on April 9.

CELTIC: The Battlefield Band at Vets Hall on April 5. Aoife Clancy at Cayuga Vault on April 8.

ART SHOW: Remember all the art hanging on the walls of Palookaville? And what about those huge murals at Moe's Alley? And the recent show at the Kuumbwa? Well, that was all George Milo Buck, the tremendously talented local artist who specializes in on-the-spot oil paintings of musicians. He's moving to France, but not before a sale of his work at Dancing Man Imagery at 123 Maple St. April 4­13. Check it out!

Mike Connor

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From the April 2-8, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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