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Hip-Hop on Hold?

IT WAS FUN while it lasted: Riding on the Giant Dipper with Aceyalone, jogging along West Cliff with The Pharcyde, playing ultimate Frisbee in San Lorenzo Park with Jurassic 5 ... those were the days. But alas (here comes the rant!), as everyone knows, the proverbial cardboard was pulled out from under our surprisingly vital hip-hop scene in Santa Cruz when Palookaville closed last year. Since then, we've seen little pockets of hip-hop--a little Blackalicious here, The Coup there, a dash of Talib Kweli for good measure--but apparently no one is willing or able to step up to the plate and book the hip-hop heavyweights on a regular basis. Judging by the amount of cops at the last Kweli show in the Cocoanut Grove, fear is at work in the hearts and pocketbooks of The Powers that Book. Right off the bat, promoters face higher rates for venue insurance when booking hip-hop shows. Do insurance companies really believe everything rap-related is gangsta style? But abracadabra, awaken! MCs like Kweli rhyme about revolution starting in the mind, deriding the "ignorant thug motherfucker shootin' the club up." But ohhh, woe is me, my words blow away like specks of dust on God's turntables ... (end of rant).

For now, we can be consoled by the fact that two hip-hop shows are on the immediate horizon. Eligh and Scarub of Living Legends and 3 Melancholy Gypsies fame will grace the Vets Hall on Aug. 10. MC Sayre and Lost & Found Generation are opening for LL, but are also performing at and hosting their own independent hip hop showcase at the 418 Project on Aug. 6, featuring Seattle-based Ol Dominion, Lazerus Jackson of Disflex.6, and The Moonies. Tickets are $15 for LL and $6 for the showcase.

I Totally Peed My Pants...

... in anticipation of the Catheters. Their new album Static Delusions and Stone-Still Days is filled with some serious punk-rocking intensity, and I was anxious to see how they'd swing it live. They didn't disappoint--as long as you didn't come to hear the vocals, which were inaudible. The band claimed responsibility for the off-balance performance, taking it upon themselves to rock extra loud, thus maxing out the Catalyst's sound system with their instruments and leaving no wattage for Brian Standeford's Mudhoneyesque screaming vocals. Maybe the volume helps them keep their energy up to plow tirelessly through their nonstop-rocking set (sans inward singing). Just plenty of spit-flying, hair-shaking rocking in the free world. Amen.

--Mike Connor

They Might Be Tiny

I had a feeling it might be a bad idea for They Might Be Giants to do an all-ages show right after they released a children's album. And sure enough, the Catalyst was packed last Wednesday night with a sea of preschoolers and even toddlers who came raging to rock with their new favorite band. With their "ROCK KILLS RAFFI DEAD" T-shirts and their "I skipped my nap today just to screw with you so stay out of my way, bitch" glares, the kiddies successfully intimidated the older, wussier TMBG fans into skittering to the back of the club as they moshed to new tracks like "Robot Parade" and "No!," as well as old favorites like "Particle Man," "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" and "She's An Angel." Eventually the whole show disintegrated into anarchy as the tykes terrorized grown-up concertgoers with an insane free-form game of Duck, Duck, Goose while the more sophisticated among them chatted outside on their Fred Flintstone cell phones.

Oh wait, that's what I wish had happened. But no such luck. Oh well, the show still rocked, with the aforementioned tunes being offered up to a post-pubescent crowd that did at least call TMBG back for three encores and get their pogo on for "She's An Angel."

-- Steve Palopoli

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From the July 31-August 7, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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