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Jet to Pretension

Last Friday night at the Jets to Brazil show, lead singer/whiner Blake Shwarzenbach asked the audience a poignant question that has since changed the way I look at life. Somehow, during a mediocre display of rock & roll emotion, Mr. Shweezeltoes bumped himself and his guitar on the drumset or something, breaking his left-handed Les Paul guitar and leaving the band no choice but to cover a Bruce Hornsby and the Range long-lost B-side track that required Shwaggenbutt to get all deep on the piano because he's, like, multitalented and sensitive or something. This was indeed quite a shame, as Shwimnotbach's piano playing is downright dull, especially when compared to his talent on the guitar and the rest of the band's crisp, clean performance of songs like "Chinatown" that, thanks to a great job at the mixing board, sounded great in the Rio. So did the Floyd-pop that they somehow pass off as emo indie rock, but Shwinehund apparently didn't think so, asking for a bit more guitar one second, and then--oh wait, no, how about a bit less? OK, can we turn the lights up, please? Yes, let's turn the lights lower ... Oooo yeah, Mr. Finicky Man, now you're settin' the mood! How about some more prima donna action now? Or wait, no--how about you shut the hell up and sing?

And then, lamenting his destruction of the irreplaceable guitar, Shwhatzhisname popped the ultimate question: "Do you realize the gravity of breaking a left-handed guitar?" he asked in all seriousness. Actually, I don't ... but I bet Mr. Owl does! Come on, let's ask him!

Metro Santa Cruz: Mr. Owl, what is the true gravity of breaking a left-handed guitar?

Mr. Owl: Well, given that the acceleration of gravity is equal to 9.8 meters per second squared, and that left-handed Les Paul guitars run you $2,000 at the very least, and taking into account the current state of affairs in the world while not forgetting about the starving children in Africa even as we consider the superior artistic talents of left-handed people, we must conclude that the true gravity of breaking a left-handed guitar is--BANG!

Metro Santa Cruz: GOOD GOD, THEY SHOT MR. OWL! THE HORROR! THE HORROR!

Clearly, Mr. Owl had something important to share with the world about the idiotic pretensions of a whiny indie rocker, but now the world will never know what to make of Shwillybong and his plight of genius. He doled out a little anecdote about how he went to UCSC for a little while, but after he burned down his dorm room, he moved to New York and started a band. And I was all, like, thank God he went all punk-rock, thrashed his dorm and moved away from this stifling little town to a big, hip city where a young genius like him could really breathe and grow and form a band like Jets to Brazil so that the Santa Cruzers he left behind could one day revel in a whole 45-minute long set of mediocre indie-pop. "Rocket Boy?" Try choirboy, Schwarzenbacher! Next time save your sad stories for VH1's "Where Are They Now" and just rock ... and oh yeah, watch out for that fuckin' drumset. It's a doozy.

You Do the Math Rock

What do you get when you take two hard-rocking Santa Cruzers, transplant them to Seattle and add a bassist who comes on like a human earthquake? The equation is complex, but the answer is simple: noteworthy power-trio of the week Tregenza, who kicked some ass at the Mediterranean last Tuesday night, only five days after they finished recording their first EP in Oakland. If it sounds anything like their live performance, it's going to do some serious damage. Although it's true that math rock bands that change melodies and time signatures too many times in one song wind up sounding muddled and wrecking potential hooks with hypercomplexity, Tregenza rocks hard through the realm of unpredictability with all its fancy stylistic shifts and dramatic starts and stops, thanks to a brutally hard-working drummer and a standout vocal performance from singer/guitarist Kelli, who has no problem switching up her vocal style, flashing effortlessly between the sexy good-girl whisperings of Blondie, the poppy rock-queen vocals of Gwen Stefani and the raging, neurotic warbles of Jello Biafra and that crazy chick from Sleater-Kinney. Check out "English Teacups" on their website, www.tregenzamusic.net.

Mike Connor

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From the June 18-25, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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