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Photographs by Stephen Laufer

If You Want Blood, You Got It

Here at Metro Santa Cruz, we are so sick of these wussy so-called 'battle of the bands' events that offer no real battling whatsoever. So we asked the local bands who made this week's Battle of the Bands finals to don their lean, mean wrestling personas and camp it up for an all-out, old-school, trash-talkin' showdown

Officiated by Mike Connor

Mudslinging! Carnage! Total fucking chaos! That's right, ladies and gentlemen, it's time for the Battle of the Bands finals at the Catalyst, and this time, it's gonna be a bloodbath. Over 40 bands have been duking it out at the Aptos Club for the last three months. Voters have widdled the group down to 12 bands, who will compete for ultimate victory this Friday and Saturday. A dozen bands enter, three bands leave, victorious, with a stash of loot. But there can be only one ultimate victor! Who will go home with a $4,000 kitty in their savage little fists?

With questionable discretion, Metro Santa Cruz has rammed its dirty little fingers into the Battle of the Bands hornets' nest and stirred up a load of badass attitude. We asked each band to forgo the dainty "everyone's a winner" niceties usually trotted out for these events and, just once, make this a real battle of the bands. To dig deep down into the pits of their guts, down to that place where the savage, ridiculously raging WWF wrestler inside kicks and screams and talks enough trash to put a garbage dump to shame. We asked them to tell us (in 200 words or less, mind you) why they rock this universe and five more besides. We asked which bands they'll enjoy crushing beneath their heels. We asked them to explain exactly how it is they make the other bands sound like choirboys by comparison. Like lost little puppies. Like whining fetal pigs.


3 Up Front are sad that they couldn't come up with a fightin' blurb, but they were the hit of our photo shoot.

Why did we do it? Because we know you already know that these bands like each other and respect one another and feel uncomfortable being compared to one another and blah blah blah--and we thought that, like us, you might enjoy not having to hear about it this time. Because when it comes to seeing your favorite bands on the local scene square off, what's so great about peace, love and understanding? We know what you really want: Mudslinging! Carnage! Total fucking chaos!

So hold on to your hats and put on your raincoats, ladies and gentlemen, because the shit-talking is about to hit the fan. Before I sign off, I'd like to remind you that the ultimate victor depends on your votes, so get your ass out to the battle and represent. And now, in this corner ...

Illumination Says:

"You know the look on the face of a boxer who has his opponent against the ropes, or the demeanor of a self-styled militia man on the cover of Guns and Ammo? How about the evil eye of a warmongering politician or the expression of one of those yappy little dogs that would attempt to take your head off, were it not confined to the back seat of a car? These images of ferocity and terror have no connection at all with illumiNation. We're pretty nice guys, actually. For the Battle of the Bands, however, we have removed the sequined gloves and donned a mask of malice (the better to kick ass with). We are psychedelic rock with a hard-on. illumiNation has transformed into the musical equivalent of a sumo wrestler on PCP. All other bands will seem Expendable next to us. With the force of a many-armed Hindu deity, we will devour the lesser bands that stand between us and the fame and fortune of victory. Or something like that."

First to Fall Says:

"A few voting tips for the upcoming Battle of the Bands: 1. Don't vote for 3 Up Front-- they aren't even from Santa Cruz, they're just trannies from Tahoe. 2. Don't waste a vote on the Fire Sermon--they already have a label, so what are they still doin' here? They should be on tour! 3. Don't vote for a cheesy, played-out Catalyst house band--you already know they suck. The only intelligent choice is First to Fall! A vote for us is a vote for children ... you don't hate children, do you?"


The Chop Tops.

The Chop Tops Say:

"We are IN LIKE SIN! We are more electric than LIVE WIRE! We give off more ILLUMINATION than THE FIRE SERMON! The 3 UP FRONT will be the FIRST TO FALL! VINCENT'S EAR ... EPICURE, VINCENT'S EAR ... EPICURE, VINCENT'S EAR ... EPICURE ... neato that rhymes! We're inSANE! Vote THE CHOP TOPS or don't, we don't fuckin' care. P.S. Our secret wrestling move is getting drunk and beating the crap out of ourselves and anyone around us!"

Dub Congress Says:

"Any of you youngsters think you can take us? Think again. We'll bring the brutal power of dub bass turned up to 11, and you'll bring nothing but diaper rash. See, that puny junior varsity style you've been shilling at your mommy's tupperware parties isn't gonna cut it. We're older and wiser, and we've been rocking the fattest shows in town since you were on Similac. Our lovely bald heads mean we're meaner and cleaner, and when the stage lights hit, you can bet we're gonna blind you and make off with all the loot. Don't forget we've got nine seasoned pros onstage, so unless you want trombone-shaped bruises where you can't even reach 'em, don't even bother showing up. If you do, you'll have to contend with the pungent blue cloud of dank smoke that our fans send up as soon as we hit the stage - we're like Popeye and spinach with that stuff. Not to mention the way we'll cloud up the dressing room. We can't wait to fire up the cannons and run Fonzie and the Happy Days crew back to whatever grease-hole they crawled out of. As for the rest of the so-called competition, we've never even heard of you, and neither has anyone else. You can embarrass yourselves if you want to, but don't say we didn't warn you."

Section 7 Says:

"We kick so much more ass than all the other bands simply because we have 10 pounds of penis between us. No band packs more cock into a 45-minute receptacle end. Our enormous girth and rock-hard stamina can exert hours of body slamming punk rock love-making, perfecting the reach-around power chord and the full G-string nelson. If you're over 40, this band will blow your prostate out your ass! We are most looking forward to eliminating Section 7. That band reeks like a septic system buried in a Scottish bog. Poppy punk is synonymous with '80s glam rock and all the same pussified qualities. I'd rather drive back and forth over a speed bump all day with hot coffee between my knees than listen to those punks. You'd need to give 'em an over-the-head wedgy just to see if they're even guys. The singer plays better air guitar than that punk-ass wannabe Eddie Van Halen. The bass player and drummer look like rubber-neck geeks. We're going to strap on cinder blocks to our boots and kick some lily-white ass. We swerve to hit roadkill and Section 7 is already dead in the road."


Live Wire.

Live Wire Says:

"Live Wire may not be the prettiest band around, but we are what rock & roll should be about--danger. A sledgehammer about to lurch out of control. Wire has not come all this way to walk away without a crown, or at least a porcelain cap. Wire, Sermon and Ear are friends. But when we step into the ring it is all business--nothing personal, boyz. I think you know who will be the First to Fall. And after we're done, those raging rapsters will be known as 3 Out Cold. Illumination will finally reach that state on life support. The Tops are made to order for LW. We'll crop their tops further even if it means chopping into some cranium. The session in Congress will be adjourned after being Dubbed a filibuster. In Like Sin, in like pummelin'. Epicure be nimble, Epicure be quick, Epicure be Santa Cruzing for a bruising! Well, there you have it. One final note: When we're through, the hosting venue will henceforth be known as the Battalyst in honor of one jackhammer of a juggernaut, Live Wire."

Epicure Says:

"Get ready Santa Cruz. Come one, come all, the Catastrophic Clash at the Catalyst is soon to begin. In this corner, undefeated in Battle, schlongs dangling to the dirt, stands Epicure. In the far corner ... who the hell cares, they're all gonna lose anyway. That's right, folks, if you want to see the powerhouse of pain, the practitioner of purposeful pummeling, then you need to see Epicure. This battle is gonna be dirty as all hell, kids--no holds barred, fight to the finish in a ring of blood and fire. If you want to see the bald heads of Dub Congress get shined, the natty dreads of illumiNation washed with Herbal Essence or the shirt of the Fire Sermon's vocalist untucked, you will want to reserve your seat at the battle today. Epicure will be unleashing a barrage of lyrical and instrumental fists, so destructive in nature that the very walls, the floor, and the foundation of the Catalyst will be forever changed. Witness history, witness an insatiable appetite for destruction, witness 11 bands flailing and falling flat at the feet of the one, the only, the almighty, Epicure."


In Like Sin Says:

In Like Sin is entering next month's Battle of the Band's Welterweight Championship with high hopes and expectations. Band Trainer and Agent Donkey Tonks had this to say at the press conference earlier this month: "Everybody's gonna pay, even the mamas and baby girls. We gots Escalades that need systems and bitches, uh, I mean switches. Actually I owe my baby's mama for bail bonds and 40s." The band is known for relentless rock ballads and lavish love songs. "We're somewhere between hardcore and lite rock," guitarist Double J Lightning had to say. "Basically, all you motherfuckers are gonna pay. We have connections with Vegas and the White House, so you know we mean business.' This is the band's ultrasupreme megashot at the Battle of the Bands, and this time around they're bringing out the broadswords and magic elves."

Sane Says:

"Dear Santa Cruz, want some ass kicking? Well, Sane hasn't come this far to pussy-foot around. Sane has quietly collaborated with some radio stations and local event coordinators and come up with a presentation that is sure to show up any of the acts July 5. Incorporating unique stage props, laser lights and pyrotechnics, sane will surely be the band to see, one not to miss ... Remember, always vote Sane and know where your exits are located."

The Fire Sermon

"You mean this is an actual battle? We hope we don't get beat up."


It's On Now, Baby! The bands get their battle on.


The Battle of the Bands Lineup

Friday, July 4:
The Fire Sermon, 3 Up Front, illumiNation, First to Fall, the Chop Tops, In Like Sin

Saturday, July 5:
Dub Congress, Vincent's Ear, Live Wire, Epicure, Section 7, Sane

The Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz; $12-$15; 16 and over; 9pm. Order of bands to be announced.


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From the July 2-9, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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