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[whitespace] Nickel and Dime'd

Butterfly ballots haunt Saturday's Battle of the Bands contest

By David Espinoza

WITH A HOOKED-on-phonics reject in the White House for inspiration, it seems that election weirdness is becoming all the rage across the nation. The friendly reggae-rockin' Ribsy's Nickel won last weekend's KMBY and Vamp Magazine-sponsored Battle of the Bands contest at Palookaville, fair 'n' square, right? Not so fast, bra. The Nickel, who walked away with over $1,000 in prize cash-flow, are being accused of working a little magic behind the scenes--they had 75 tickets purchased in advance for their show. Not a big deal considering that Palookaville holds space for 600 people, but 600 people didn't show up to Saturday's gig, and as we all know, a few votes make all the difference when an election is close. Someone should have told the folks at Vamp and KMBY about instant runoff voting.

There was another minor bit of drama Saturday night, as local ska-mutants the Sneaky Creekans decided to throw down a street show right outside P-ville after playing the 5pm opening slot of the Battle of the Bands to a near-empty room. The only local acts known to cover Public Enemy and LL Cool J with ska-beats, the Creekans reportedly had a huge crowd digging the sounds--not bad for a crew that headlined the Catalyst just the night before. Vocalist Nate Lieby maintains the street gig, which, eventually got shut down by the PD, "was a hoot" and in no way meant as a dis to Vamp Mag.

Unforgettable Fire

It's time for a confession--out of the thousands of folks who turned out for U2's sold-out San Jose Arena show, I was probably the only one not that excited to see them. Not out of a lack of respect, mind you; for more than 20 years U2 has remained the greatest of the great rock & roll bands, consistently surpassing the music of contemporaries such as the Cure and the once mighty Guns N' Roses. But as with the Beatles, there's only so many times one can hear Joshua Tree, Achtung, Baby or Unforgettable Fire (to name a few albums) before needing to take a break altogether--for me, it's been about five years. And yet, U2's absolutely stunning performance Thursday night proved why they will always be called "the people's band."

For two hours and then some, the iconic Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen delivered a flawless set that drew from two decades of music, starting with their latest All That You Can't Leave Behind and going all the way back to their 1980 debut, Boy. In contrast to the last five years' worth of tours, where the band experimented with the inflated rock-star ego thing, Thursday's show featured a relatively demure setup (for a superstar band) that included a heart-shaped catwalk which allowed Bono and the Edge to venture out into the audience. Bono, always the pope of rock & roll, has somehow managed to remain sincere in his appreciation of the fans--after completing two encores (the first of which included Joshua Tree's "Bullet the Blue Sky" with images of America's ongoing gun problem), he ended the night accompanied by "Thank you for spending your hard-earned cash on a rock show." I've decided to start dusting off my U2 CDs and give them another spin.

Time Warp

After roughly five months of supporting local cultural events (i.e., poetry readings, film showings, dances) and obscure out-of-town bands, the Rio Theatre is dipping its toe in a top act (she's been on MTV, okay?). Joan Jett, the "I love rock & roll" glamster of the '80s, founding member of the '70s outfit the Runaways (which also included Lita Ford) and most recently Columbia from the Broadway version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, will be hitting the Rio May 6 as part of a mini Cali tour that includes a sold-out show in San Francisco. Praise be to local promoter Lois Petrozza, who also helped put together the Ruins show in March and plays in Surf With Satan. Perhaps this will set a precedent for more '80s big-hair grrrl acts to visit the Rio. Where is Pat Benatar these days anyway?

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From the April 25-May 2, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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