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And Then There Were None

In a shocking display of treachery and boldfaced lies at the KPIG Swine Soiree this past Sunday, local (cow) punk-ass trio The Devil Makes Three declined exhortations for a second encore, claiming that they didn't have any more songs to play. Preposterous! Unless the band I've seen at previous shows was a group of evil imposters, I know for a fact that they've got plenty more excellent originals, plus a slew of Steve Earle covers to boot. Well, turns out that the young 'uns just didn't want to play anything that was less than completely polished, which is pretty durn cute. But it did lead to a rather long set break, given that Todd Snider showed up a good half hour after he was scheduled to start. In another shocking display (this time of warmhearted generosity and forgiveness), the audience graciously (yet figuratively) embraced Snider at the first chord of an aptly chosen first song, "Tension." He rambled through a nice long set of quirky, poignant ballads, showing off Another Side of Todd Snider and making a fan out of me in the process. So did the Mother Truckers, who only needed to play their Southern-fried version of AC/DC's "TNT" to win me over, but they sealed the deal with rumbling country-rock burners, epic steel slide-heavy anthems ("If I Die") and the tongue-in-cheek ballad "We Were Getting High," all of which showcased the magnificent vocal harmonies of Josh Zee and Teal Collins, who can belt out the twang with the best of 'em.

A New World Order

It's one thing to say that a band has "something for everyone," with said "everyone" being fans of Klezmer-Tinged Russian Straight-Legged Romps and the theme song of Beverley Hills 90210 alike. But it's another thing to say that one song has "something for everyone," with said romps and theme songs smashed up with some disco and a brain-splattering dose of death metal ... or something. To be honest, my memory of Estradasphere's Saturday night show at the Vets Hall is a little muddled up, as is my memory of every Estradasphere show I see. As anyone who's seen them knows, it's freakin' hard to keep up with these guys. I do remember live video of the band mixed with clips from Cabin Boy projected onto a screen, and "Walk Like an Egyptian" melting into "Keep 'Em Separated." I think they love the Beach Boys. All I know for sure is, they're shockingly talented and inventive and, well, pretty much totally insanely fearless in their musical forays. Look out for their new album, Quadrapus, and a slot in the upcoming Cabrillo Music Festival.

Mike Connor

More Notes From the Pigpen

I should have known there was gonna be trouble at the KPIG Swine Soiree when Robert Earl Keen came out looking like a cross between Steve Earle and The Dude. Walking a fine line between cool and grizzled, you might say. Anyway, it was a quintessential I'm Not Playin' by the Rules Tonight, Baby kind of look, so I probably should have suspected he had something up his sleeve. Or several somethings, which turned out to be a lot of songs you rarely hear him do these days, including the opening "Fourth of July" and "Coming Home of the Son and Brother," along with a later serving of "The Raven and the Coyote." Keen and the band seemed a little low on energy, though, until they hit "Blow You Away," which, with its gigantic backbeat and slicing guitar, sounded fucking dangerous. By "Wild Wind," which I've come to regard as possibly the best song Keen has ever written, things were in full, delirious swing. Great news for fans: the two new songs, from this fall's forthcoming album, were fantastic.

Now Wait for Last Year

I've realized what my problem is with Dan Bern: I'm exactly one album behind him. Meaning that at his Moe's show last week--which was an otherwise punchy full-band affair--I was finally ready (in fact, completely amped) to hear songs from the album before the one he's currently promoting. And boy was he tricksy, starting the show with "Sweetness," the incredible opening track from that album. Too bad for me he only played one other song from that record all night! Oh well. Even more tricksy: a lot of the songs he did sing aren't on any of his albums. That's cheating!

Steve Palopoli

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From the June 25-July 2, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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