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Lights, Camera and Lots of Action

Smile, Santa Cruz, you're on TV! Or in a documentary about SC bands ... or maybe even in the upcoming Girls Gone Wild: SC Style! Why? Because video cameras roamed the music venues of SC last weekend, at both the Blueprint show at the Vets Hall on Friday night and the punk show at the Mediterranean on Saturday night, featuring the Horrible Humans, The Highway Murders, Los Dryheavers and the Angry Amputees.

For his part, Mediterranean co-owner Abi McKee is producing and filming a documentary about local SC bands, looking to hype up the scene and showcase some of the talent that passes through the Med. With over 300 bands to choose from, McKee had to somehow narrow the pool down to a select few that have that certain touch of magic. McKee's selections have not all been finalized or confirmed, but he's leaning toward Splitting Seconds, Los Dryheavers, The Highway Murders, The Expendables, The Horrible Humans and The Lonely Kings. Judging by the lineup of bands and the rowdy turnout at Saturday night's show, it's going to be a wild ride.

A huge waiver was posted in the entrance of the Med giving the filmmakers the right to use your likeness "visually or audioly," which seemed more like a grammatical nightmare than a legal waiver, but whatever. Nobody seemed to care that they were being filmed--except the bands, who were all excitingly photogenic. With their faces painted like evil raccoons, the Horrible Humans kicked off the evening with an aggressive set of screamin' originals, including the epic "Clowns on Heroin" and its sister song, "Clowns on Crack." The Highway Murderers kicked things up a notch with hardcore attitude and a penchant for speed metal and thrashing rock. Fans went absolutely apeshit in the mosh pit, which is totally fucking insane given the size of the Med (it's tiny), and the fact that all the sound equipment is right in the middle of the crowd. Props to Splitting Seconds' frontman Mike McGuire, who (with the help of two incredibly large bouncers) managed the sound for the evening in the middle of a brutal mosh pit.

Los Dryheavers delivered a characteristically kick-ass set of raging, galloping punk rock, elevating the "Borracho y Aggressivo" vibe to the next level. By the time Angry Amputees came on at about 1am, strange things were afoot at the Mediterranean. Drinks were drunk. Glasses were broken. Blows were thrown. Kisses were exchanged. Breasts were exposed. Genitals were caressed. And at one point, the mosh pit got so crazy that somebody fell into a stack of amps, causing the whole tower to tumble down. The heavy equipment just barely missed Dalty, the band's sex symbol/amputee bassist who looked particularly vulnerable confined to a wheelchair as sound equipment came crashing down around him. But he survived unscathed and the show went on, riding comfortably on the edge of the belligerent chaos that ruled the evening. Singer/guitarist Stacey Dee seemed unfazed by the madness, and even seemed to feed on it as she continued to inject stadium-size charisma into the Amputees' seething pop-punk. I hadn't seen them live in almost a year, and was happy to see that they've come a long, long way, delivering melodic complexity along with their namesake anger, putting their recorded material to shame in a rockin' live performance.

The cameras' agenda at the Blueprint show was a bit clearer--they were filming a live shoot for MTV2 and for a DVD of the band's live shows and misadventures on tour. Blueprint put on a good show for the cameras, complete with a faithful cover of Modern English's "I Melt With You." But guitarist Zach Friend stole the show with his camera-friendly antics; I haven't seen anyone give such good guitar face in a long time. Soon, the whole world will know how he looks on the Cave Train!

Exhibitionist From Hell!

A few words about everybody's favorite all-girl AC/DC cover band Hell's Belles: Obviously they're back in action, sporting a bunch of new hairdos and a lot of the same antics that are part and parcel of their pro-chick extravaganza: Singer Om Jahari still sends the boys to the back and brings the ladies up front for "You Shook Me All Night Long," dreadlocked guitarist Adrian Conner still rocks out as hard as Angus Young (but mercifully left out the striptease this time around). Their tempo was all out of whack, though, rushing through "Hell's Bells" and "You Shook Me" way too fast. Maybe they were all just excited that Conner wasn't wearing any underwear beneath that schoolgirl skirt?

Mike Connor

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From the July 30-August 6, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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