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Notes From the Underground
By Arwen Curry

Ashes to Bashes:
Local promoters revive dead venues

THE REDEEMING THING ABOUT WRITING SAD OBITUARIES for bands, venues and various musical projects is that, unlike actual living entities, you can never be sure if they're really dead or just lingering in hiatus to knock you out later with newfound pizzazz. Every music-lover knows that one of the keenest instincts a band can have is knowing when to quit, despite the profundity of the sacrifice.

While some underground folks are meant to do their thing interminably, like Tim Yohannan (sincere, sarcastic dictator of Maximum Rocknroll) and Aaron Elliot (with 15 years of delicate reflections in his zine Cometbus), most are wise to maintain the dignity of their heyday, and abandon--even in the face of popularity--their projects when they begin disintegrating into drivel. And, assuming their contribution was valid or at least remotely honest, they are bound to temper their fans' disappointment with suspense and speculation as to whether they will ever return--reunited, or perhaps mutated into another form.

I have often whined in NFU about the lack of places to play, mourning the demise of specific venues with a melancholy that would be exaggerated in another town but dramatically affects the progress of underground music in SC. Like bands and their potential to pull a phoenix, some venues that have been largely written off are reminding us they have been lurking in the shadows, quietly hosting Argentinean dance lessons and the like, waiting to be exploited with the proper vehemence.

Prolific local musician Mag (with others) organized a show Thursday at the Vets Hall where Team Dresch and company should prove once and for all whether girls can rock. In the past, a headliner as popular would be awkwardly crammed into one of our cramped and humid houses because no one felt our numerous local young people would see a band without power guitar hooks and jock straps. Perhaps the times are a' changin', after all.

Mag, despite all his ultimatums, just can't seem to turn down anybody who calls desperately looking for somewhere to play--thus another "dead" venue peeks its head over the side of the casket: The 320A house--with a hearty "Ha, ha, just kidding"--hosts another show (and dance party) this Sunday. Of course you can only put on so many "one-time only" shows without ravenous, snarling local bands beating down the door and demanding their fair share--which eventually leads to troubles with land people and police, and then to a second burial. I can't say the cycle is exactly healthy, but these folks have to be so in love with music they do it anyway. Otherwise the great tumbleweed silence of the last few weeks will end up deafening us all.

Upcoming

Once again, Team Dresch plays Thursday with Angora, the Gashers, the Satyrs and spoken word artists at the Vets Hall (7:30pm, $5 donation, all ages). Saturday, Pansy Division plays at Streetlight Records on Pacific Ave. (7pm, free). Sunday, ICU plays at the 320A house (7pm, donations, all ages).

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From the August 21-27, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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