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Notes From the Underground
By Arwen Curry

All Dykes Go to Heaven

Cypher in the Snow brings feminist punk to Santa Cruz

IT'S STRANGE, WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT, that while Santa Cruz has respectable numbers of both lesbians and political activists--not to mention punky types--there is not a dyke-core band to be found in the local punk scene. Local bands have a decent female contingent, but in adherence with the unspoken "take it easy, dude" attitude of Santa Cruz, no one seems to feel truly militant about anything.

San Francisco's Cypher in the Snow brought a little downhome rage to 320A on Friday night, leaving its slogan--"Kill 'em all and let the goddess sort 'em out"--hanging in the air.

The show started on a kinder, gentler note with 3 Speed, a new local pop band gracefully emulating the sweet girlie sentimentality of bands like Cub and Go Sailor. Singer Kristin McCrory, while still new to the stage, manages a strange confidence by standing almost completely still while singing with great deliberation. The rare quietness of the band showcased her full, melodic voice perhaps even more than necessary.

Moralyson, as tight as usual, played second, with Mag reaching awe-inspiring levels of feminine pitch on the mic while fingering the guitar.

The misty, sugary haze was shortly wiped out like an ant trail by a can of Raid, much to the surprise of the unprepared. Cypher in the Snow--the venom in question--arranged all six members in front of the audience with the sharp warning that those sitting in front were at some serious risk. Vocalist Anna Joy, who some may remember from Blatz and the Gr'ups, blasted through dyke and femme-core anthems like "Girl Militia" (from the group's first single on Outpunk Records) and other songs confronting relevant issues. My personal favorite was "Cigarette Picnic," which sped the tempo and rocked especially hard with the aid of an electric banjo and a trumpet. Towards the end of the set, Cypher stumbled a little over a cover of X's "Nausea" (previously covered by Blatz), but the pause gave rise to commentary by Lynn Breedlove, SF band Tribe 8's undeniably scary punk front-dyke, who had come down to check out the show.

Though the outpour of political anger must have made some audience members uncomfortable, it hopefully gave them cause to rethink the definition of punk rock and its place in the world. And whatever this ensemble of colorful musicians were, the Cypher women certainly were not boring. The 320A show was the first night in a tour, which will be partially funded by sales of their Candyass Records CD and other miscellany. By the time they roll back through town, hopefully like-minded locals will have organized some music of their own, Santa Cruz-style.


On Saturday, Bellah plays at the Corner Pocket (7pm, free, 21 and up). At What Is Art? on both Saturday and Sunday, Mehitabel and members of Lackadaisy play (8pm, $6-8, all ages).

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From the June 25 - July 2, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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