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Notes From the Underground

Punk's Not Dead, Oh No:
Santa Cruz music celebrates its finest

I hear that the Portuguese Hall will soon be closed to punk shows, which puts the big names in the same pickle as smaller bands. But after the success of the Good Riddance show on Friday, I have no doubt that the local mentality will eventually pick up the pieces. The kids swarmed in, and by the time L.I.F.E. finished their set, the energy was already ricocheting off the walls. Excellent sound quality accentuated the tension, pulling drums and vocals for each band from the fuzzy abyss they so easily fell in with mediocre mixing. Riff Raff's vocals--which so closely follow Troy's guitar lines that they often threaten a monotone--stood confidently on their own.

Third up, OC old-schoolers Final Conflict heaped praise on the SC scene and encouraged the moshers to bounce considerately to righteous songs like "Magdelene." Singer Ron Martinez represented what I'd like to think punk was about, remaining sensitive to the audience without sacrificing any substance.

Fury 66's set offered some surprises, including a Cavities cover with Nick as guest screamer. Their set was unusually raw and emotional, but unfortunately I could only relate to the sometimes Descendants-like tone from behind a barrier of wife-beater-clad testosterone. Good Riddance closed up with a perfect mix of old and new, and had the kids literally spilling onto the stage to clutch at Russ' legs. Even when they're treated like rock stars, though, these guys are definitely still with us.
Arwen Curry

Album Review: Good Riddance

All those who were unsure about fighting the system may now sigh in relief--A Comprehensive Guide to Moderne Rebellion, Good Riddance's latest Fat Wreck Chords production has finally been released. After a few listens, the strength of this album is apparent--several of the tracks are nothing less than anthemic. "Last Believer," for one, is sure to be a hit with its straightforward catchy idealism, not to mention "Come Dancing." It's still a mystery to me why Tilt's Cinder Block only sings one line in "A Credit to His Gender," though. I thought this was a great opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the Muffs' Kim Shattuck and Fat Mike's split vocals on NoFx's "Lori Meyers." The potential for collaboration is immense even within the framework of a single record label--it's a shame they didn't take it further. Their loyalty to signature Fat sound is predictable--a couple of tracks could easily be mistaken for NoFx on a foggy night--and no, they couldn't resist a hidden track on the CD, but this release stands out as an emblem of local pride.
Arwen Curry

Upcoming

On Thursday, the Need performs with Cold Cold Hearts, the Downers and Amanda July at the Basement (8pm, all ages). On Saturday, Fury 66 plays with New Jersey's Heckle, and locals Black Label at the downtown Vet's Hall (8pm, $5, all ages). On Sunday, Witchhook Sky, Fisher and Vessel play at Emi's (21-plus, $3, 9pm). On Tuesday, check out Sleater-Kinney at the Basement with Angora, Baby Cake Boom Boom (all ages, 8pm). On Wednesday, San Diego's Boilermaker (who I hear are really good) play at the Basement with the Rye Coalition, Torches to Rome, Fighting Cause and One Good Eye (all ages, 8pm).
Michael Mechanic

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From the June 20-26, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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