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Captured by Edward G. Robinson: Jay Vance put a weird 'Ten Commandments'-themed spin on his Captured by Robots show at the Med Saturday.

The Passion of the Robots

Jesus, is every church in town riffing on this Passion thing? I swear to God, you can't drive two blocks without seeing a sign asking, "Was The Passion right? Find out on Sunday at 10am!" But here's an easier way to find out if it's right--read this next word:

No.

Damn, that was so easy! Bring on the next controversy!

What's a bit more difficult to figure out is: what was up with the "Moses" theme of the Captured by Robots show at the Mediterranean last Saturday night? Yes, this is the band created by former Blue Meanies and Skankin' Pickle bassist Jay Vance (rechristened JBOT by his robotic band mates), who tired of playing with other people and so constructed a robotic band that actually plays instruments (this ain't no pre-recorded casio crap). But as robots tend to be meddlesome, Jay's band mates enslaved him with a chip in the brain, and the rest is robot history. Now, it's somehow part of Jewish history as well.

The performance started out with a projection of The Ten Commandments, changing the tone from campy apocalypse to Camp Egypt--even the guitar-bot was dressed up like a pharaoh. Also new was the addition of a scraggly beard to JBOT's creepy bug-eyed gas mask and his new epithet, the "Old Testimonial Original Gangsta"--perhaps a suggestion that he would somehow defy his implanted chip and lead the humans to freedom from robot tyranny? Lastly, he had an entirely new robotic skeleton horn section, which unfortunately could only blow one note. If I were a malevolent robot, I'd simply enslave some more members of the Meanies or the Pickle. Next problem!

Kittys Drink Milka

The Girl Powder tour at the Catalyst last Monday night was a lesson in attitude--namely, which ones work, and which just don't.

Take the first band, Mudbath, a veritable No Doubt cover band from Orange County. They sounded good enough--the lead vocalist was easily as good as Stefani--but aggravation in my gut slowly mounted. Was it the band's almost total reliance on the singer's tattoos and rockabilly style for stage presence? As if that's something rare, rebellious or original these days. Or was it the bassist's seemingly concerted effort to be as boring as humanly possible, complete with inert hangdog expression?

The next group, an alt-heavy metal band called Milka, on the other hand, was totally captivating. Their music was a bit overdramatic for my tastes, but at least they rocked the fuck out onstage, especially the little Puerto Rican frontwoman Milka Ramos. She projects enough pathos onstage to captivate a generation of angsty teenagers and even more besides, if she could just find a more eclectic, less sappy medium, because too much candy is no good.

Local pop-punk trio Here Kitty Kitty closed out the evening with a different spectacle entirely. To the untrained eye, guitarist Aricka Scarborough and bassist Mikala Clements look like they could be adorable fraternal twin punk rock chicks. I might have compared them to Joan Jett with Go-Go's-esque harmonies, but as another music critic of this newspaper recently pointed out, Jett's old band The Runaways offers a more succinct example of the kind of pop-rock powering this trio. Their mastery of the genre is evident on the second song on their new album, This Is Broken, called "Lucy Grey." They've even got their own birthday song, "Birthday," perfect for parties!

Mike Connor

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From the April 7-14, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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