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Notes From the Underground
By Arwen Curry

For the Record:
Good Riddance welcomed home with finesse

THE HOPES OF LOCAL KIDS AND BANDS were sent skyrocketing with possibilities on Saturday when Good Riddance, back from a seemingly endless touring schedule, made its homecoming appearance with a free show in the corner of Streetlight Records. As an employee of said establishment, I can guarantee the apprehension grew steadily before the band played, as the diligent Streetlight minions visualized the destruction of collectible vinyl and skulls punctured by the cast-iron displays. But with singer Russ Rankin's warnings (which the kids heeded with Pavlovian fervor) and watchful monitoring by the hosts, the show proceeded without mishap--if you don't count one kid throwing up on his friend's jacket.

Energy wasn't squelched but inflamed by the awkward, limited space and the mass of people attempting to fill it. With the door wide open and no one asking for dollars outside of it, the ruckus attracted a predictable number of shirtless drunken carousers and families with small children in perambulators, as well as the target crowd.

Good Riddance--who hasn't played a show in town for months and is currently enjoying the summits of punk-rock fame and adoration--was a gutsy choice for an in-store performance, with seemingly infinite hoards of bright-eyed fuzzy-headed kids waving at the cameras while older friends and colleagues of the band looked on benevolently. Meanwhile, I imagine all of the musicians in the building pictured themselves hemmed in the corner, facing an excited audience.

While the environment, in one sense, was more than suitable, it was generally understood that this was a hands-off, low-aggression show for reasons of safety. Probably due to the echoing acoustics, the sound was loud but tinny, and it was nearly impossible for most of the crowd to actually see the band. The kids up front contained themselves--for the most part--with difficulty, as the band skipped through a respectably long set of familiar songs.

While its status as a hardcore band stretches the term a little thin for my liking, Good Riddance's songs were catchy as hell in a mid-'80s SoCal vein, laced together--especially those from Comprehensive Guide to Moderne Rebellion--with newer-school pretty guitar bits.

After the show, as the band members frantically passed out autographs (autographs?) and stickers to a mob of desperate kids, the store returned to its normal state surprisingly fast, and with no blood (only, regrettably, the aforementioned puke) to clean off the floor.

Since Pansy Division's christening in-store show, the requests from bands to play have been overwhelming. Considering the circumstances, it's obviously unwise to push Streetlight as a flesh-and-blood venue, but the gesture to a new community is well-taken.

Upcoming

On Thursday, Modest Mouse plays with Red Stars Theory and Nuzzle at the Actors' Theatre (7pm, India Joze building, $4-5, all ages). On Saturday, the Orange Peels play at Streetlight in San Jose (7pm, free, all ages).

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From the Sept. 18-24, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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