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[whitespace] Free Trade Fighters

Local bands rallied and rocked to support Santa Cruz's anti-FTAA contingent bound for Quebec

By David Espinoza

IN A TOWN with a scarcity of all-age venues, house shows are often among the few places to catch local bands. Unfortunately, la placa (the police) are notorious for sniffing out and shutting down such gigs before they get started--that is, unless you happen to host the show in the daytime. At an undisclosed location last Saturday, local acts Roots of Orchid, the Carnivores, Hate Mail Express and New York Émigrés Run Return filled the afternoon air with sounds on behalf of the anti-FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) Santa Cruz contingent, which headed off to battle corporate fascism in Quebec this week.

The small-scale benefit and barbecue was an opportunity to raise the awareness level on the issues surrounding the trade talks, which will be literally fenced off from the public (13-foot-high barbed-wire fences to be precise). Warming up the small crowd was Roots of Orchid, a four-piece act that, on occasion, sported two bass players and performed with fine indie-rock sensibilities. As always, Hate Mail Express offered up some fire-and-brimstone garage rock a la the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion that included a special guest appearance by bassist Jeff Manson's pet cockroach.

Correction: Last week's mention of DJ Rodent performing at the goth/industrial/electronic gathering should have read "presumably not the former City Council candidate"--except, low and behold, it was the same person or creature. Let that be a lesson to us all. There is only one Rodent who can spin and get his name on a ballot in Santa Cruz.

Speaking of Dominion, hats and pale makeup off to Nicole Gordon, a.k.a. DJ Neko of the Blue Lagoon, who pulled it all together and says the show was successful enough that there will be a sequel next month. P.S. Her five favorite bands are Apoptygma Berzerk, Sisters of Mercy, Portishead, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Covenant.

Back in the J. Mascis

The best thing any fan can do for his or her musician of choice (next to tossing undergarments on stage) is to be honest about new material. With that in mind, let's just say the brains behind the defunct Dinosaur Jr., J. Mascis, peaked back in the late '80s when Lou Barlow (Sebadoh) was still in the band. Sure, Mascis and his revised Barlowless band scored a couple of minor hits during the early Lollapalooza years, but that was then. Mascis' latest project, J. Mascis and the Fog, the on-tour version of which includes my personal bass-messiah, Mike Watt, is decent in the sense that his signature '70s slacker-rock with riffage (think the Almost Famous soundtrack) is still in effect. However, the project is basically mid-'90s Dinosaur Jr. all over again, and that's a disappointment given how much more we've come to expect from one of indie rock's legends. Perhaps the live show will be more impressive. Mascis and Watt hit the Catalyst on April 28.

Showdown at P-Town

As Santa Cruz's best (according to KMBY and Vamp Magazine fans) prepare for a showdown at P-ville this weekend for the final Battle of the Bands show, punksters Leveller would like to remind fans to fasten their seat belts and keep all breakable limbs safely inside while watching them play--well, sort of. The quintet, which has been banned from the Aptos Club twice now (the last offense occurred in March, when a fight broke out in the parking lot--although it didn't include any of the band members or their friends), is ready to release its first full-length album, Theory, on Half Pint Records. The 14-track recording will be available during the band's West Coast tour with the recently reunited Blast. That means attendees of the Battle of the Bands will have to rely on their memory of the live show until the CD comes out, which might be hard, given that Leveller have been known to cause concussions.

P.S. Joey, we miss you.

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From the April 18-25, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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