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Notes From the Underground

Surf Breaks at Moe's:
Blues club dials in local surf and rockabilly sounds

Local psychobilly trio Buddy's Riot were special guests at last Wednesday's "rockabilly night" at Moe's Alley, tempting the barstool regulars onto the dance floor while treating the younger crowd to stand-up-bass-driven craziness. Clouds of dust seemed to rise after every song, as if the band had just peeled out in a '63 Caddy. They opened for King Katz, a more conventional greaser trio that plays there regularly and whose drummer apparently did a stint with Agent Orange one long-gone summer.

The dance-a-thon continued on Sunday with the Neptunas, an all-girl surf band from San Pedro. Supported by local surf-rockers the Parafins, this trio charmed the knickers off the audience, and no doubt sparked some desert island fantasies. Dolled up in Hawaiian dresses and pastel bouffant wigs, these fine mer-girls jiggled through surf classics from the Challengers and the Bel-Aires, plus original stuff like "Cannibal Luau" off of their 1995 Sympathy for the Record Industry release. Bassist "Pamita Neptuna" was all smiles and one-liners, easily stirring up crowd participation. A bizarre onstage go-go-dancing session erupted, consisting of one guy hitting himself over the head with a clipboard because, as Pamita so astutely pointed out, "You need a gimmick." Other activities included a male/female strip-tease and audience-assisted vocals (local Chris Hansen got the most points for remembering all the words to Agent Orange's "Blood Stains"). "Leslita" concentrated on her guitar while "Toastita" slammed through the set with twirls of her drum sticks and all-around energetic flair. Although the drinks are pricey, there was no cover and the sound quality was the best around. (AC)

CD Review--Slow Gherkin's Double Happiness

Although the Chinese-food theme on the liner art baffles me, this is a damned good debut from local nine-piece ska band Slow Gherkin. Eschewing the recent punk-ska trend, Gherkin sticks mainly to the clean, upbeat rock-steady sound pioneered by early groups like Prince Buster and the Skatalites and revived by British bands in the early 1980s. These guys do dip into the punk, but only for 38 seconds with "Bad Driver," and maybe a tiny bit in "Factories"--the pickle boyz very own Unabomber manifesto. Double Happiness has lots of variety in sound and tempo, live tracks, a tune in Spanish, a few whimsical instrumentals reminiscent of UB40's first, impressive horn and bass work, and even a bastardized version of Yiddish traditional "Havah Nagilah." Slow Gherkin plays live at Palookaville on Friday with Janitors Against Apartheid (16 plus, 9pm, $5). (MM)


On Thursday, Bollweevils play at the Basement with Stub, Four Squares and the Willies (all ages, 8pm). On Friday, Jughead's Revenge, It., Piss Wild Horses, Static, Pezz and Sick Shift play at the Portuguese Hall (216 Evergreen, near Harvey West Park (all ages, 6pm). I highly recommend New Bad Things with Monterey's Starlite Desperation Show and locals the What-Nots at Emi's on Sunday (21 plus, 9pm). (MM)

This week's NFU was written by Arwen Curry (AC) and Michael Mechanic (MM).

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From the May 23-29, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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