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Notes From the Underground

L.I.F.E. Is Dead:
Promising local punx disperse, as do music critics

As summer days draw to a close, Santa Cruzans begin to turn their energies from giving misleading directions to the tourists to awaiting the arrival of the next batch of fresh hupeople (PC police in action) from Southern California. This scent of transition must have gotten to local band L.I.F.E., which recently disbanded, leaving me with a feeling like I might if I met someone radiant who moved to Singapore the next day. Guitarist Jeff has gone on to play for Fury 66, replacing Jon Cattivera, and word is that Gary, L.I.F.E's singer, is abandoning the country altogether in favor of New Zealand.

In a tightly knit (some might say incestuous) town like SC, this reshuffling leaves its personal mark on musicians and the fans who have come to identify with them. It's comforting to remember that we are merely one puny (though noisy) genealogical dash on the vast extended family of underground music, whose marriages, divorces, births and deaths keep it constantly in a cycle of setback and growth--keep it, essentially, a living organism.

At regular intervals, it's useful to step away from our microscopic perspective and examine things from a distance. In a couple of days I'll be following Dutch punks to shows and bullshitting with Italian activists at their hole-in-the-wall co-ops in Europe. Hopefully, when I come back, I'll remember to appreciate the fact that no scene is, or should be, set in stone.

Operation Ivy broke up when they felt they had to, even with a great deal of remorse. Jane's Addiction, on a larger scale, decided to call it quits instead of continuing to exploit a short-lived "next big thing" status like so many others. These were undoubtedly wise decisions, preserving the integrity of the music both bands had produced. Still, I can't help wishing that L.I.F.E., one of my favorite local bands, had at least left behind some recorded legacy before passing away much too young.
Arwen Curry

Tape Review--Unsafe

Here's a grungy little demo from local band Unsafe. This five-songer is kinda cool, but is raw and loose to the point where I think they need more practice. Plus, there's flange on the vocals--a lousy effect. Unsafe has a mid-tempo psychedelic sound fomented by a lot of distortion and wah-wah and political lyrics, including a song subtitled "Boycott Shell" and "Surf City," which rips on some local problems, plus an instrumental called "Jenny" that somehow reminded me of the Swans covering "Love Will Tear Us Apart." Includes hidden satanic message. Fragile Hippy Records, PO Box 7732, SC, 95061.


Punk fest at the Vet's hall on Friday with Angry Samoans, F.Y.P., Sheephead, Low Sperm Count, the Ruckas, Black Label (all ages, 8pm, $6). If you feel like driving to Sand City, Riff Raff plays with Lengua on Saturday at Three Spirits Gallery (all ages, $6, 8pm, call 454-ARTS) and them local greaser boys also play at Emi's on Sunday with Sick Shift (21 plus, 10pm).
Michael Mechanic

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From the August 15-21, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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