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Notes From The Underground

[whitespace] Riff Raff
Peter Saporito

Hanging From the Raffters: Riff Raff tore through its set at the Vets Hall last Thursday.

Raff Riffed Off:
Riff Raff and a punk-rock crew of many show off at the Santa Cruz Vets Hall

T HREE LEFT STANDING, a competent, melodic punk outfit led by barefoot vocalist Nick (formerly of the Cavities--one of my old favorites), kicked things off last Thursday night at the Vets Hall--nice start guys. San Jose's Not Hot was not bad, and during its better New Wave moments sounded like Blondie taking over vocal duties for the Humpers. I dozed off through the Nyquil-esque set by Berkeley's Imploding Castrations but was awakened by a punk-rock bang known as the Force.

The Force laid down riffs and razor-sharp vocals as monstrous as Jabba the Hutt at an all-you-can-eat Sizzler. Chad, the Force's drummer, was an all-out percussion fiend. I was informed it was the band's final show, which is a shame because even though punk bands are now a dime a dozen, these guys were Susan B. Anthony silver dollars and totally shined.

Headliners Riff Raff tore through a sturdy arsenal of high-octane rock that left the kids gasping for air. Troy and crew cranked out furious hard-core orbs like "Wrong" and "Kustom Made Hell" and showcased some cool new tunes. The driving power-chord finale in "Suffer" would make Lemme proud. Kustom Made Hell, Riff Raff's new CD, will be out in a couple weeks--rumor has it that each CD features a very scantily clad Odie trading card, so make it a point to buy more than one.

Silence but Deadly

P.A.W.N.S. whips up tasty Subhumans-styled punk just the way the hungry punks like it. Not too long ago, politics and punk proudly walked hand in hand down Pacific Avenue, spitting on everything in sight. This CD--a split between P.A.W.N.S and Political Silence--temporarily reunites the two lovers for a 34-song romp on the conjugal bed. The tag-team vocals of Warren Sides and St. Ann alone are worth the price of this CD. Think the B-52s on a mondo sugar rush.

My favorite tune, "Badge of Stupidity," earns best-lyric-of-the-year honors with its "Plus-four armor of I don't care," commenting that even gutter punks fall victim to the same kinds of cliques they detest. (You're not punk--you don't have a Crass patch.) "Fox Holed" and "Explosion" are riddled with killer lines like "slipping on the blood flowing from my nostrils." "Body and Mined" should appeal to Minor Threat fans.

Political Silence was applying the punk to the rock way before Brandon Walsh grew his first sideburn. It unleashes angry punk anthems in your face like a pissed-off dentist. Vocalist Ray Dehated (the guitarist in P.A.W.N.S.) heaves up several crucial vital organs during the course of each song. "Drunk Man With Guns," kind of an updated version of Black Flag's "TV Party," does hard-core right. "For Your Rights," a case study on brilliant songmanship, is catchier than herpes simplex. What I really want to know is if they started a band because they were already graced with cool punk names at birth or did they do the name change thing after they discovered they were playing in awesome bands? For a copy, write Bad Monkey Records, 473 N. St., Oakland 94609.

Correction

Tribal Disco Noise is from Pleasanton and not San Francisco, as I incorrectly reported two weeks ago. Its devoted fans also stated the band doesn't sound like 311 but more like Korn. I hate Korn, too.

Upcoming

On Thursday, Herbert is back from a successful tour down south and puts the pedal to the metal with Nebula (ex-members of Fu Manchu) and Gammera at the Aptos Club (21 and up, $4, 9pm).
Matt Koumaras

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From the September 17-23, 1998 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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