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Notes From the Underground

Tuesday Night Skank
Local kids play the town's big stages on the off nights

I FINALLY GOT OFF MY LAZY ass and saw Slow Gherkin play live, opening for the Skeletones and The Selecter at Palookaville last week. Even as the opener, this nine-piece draws 'em in and gets the crowd going. James Rickman is a fun frontman to watch, frowning slightly and dancing spasmodically like an electrified noodle. The pickle boys have a pretty horn-heavy mix, with a bit of a subdued harder edge emanating from the rhythm section--I tend to like the harder stuff best. But they aren't as goofy as I expected them to be, with the exception of a song about Michael Jackson, and the fact that one of the guys rode a giant stuffed buffalo for the length of a song.

The Skeletones pumped out a real soulful brand of ska, and the Selecter was a lot of fun, not having let more than 15 years playing together wear down their enthusiasm much, though some of their youthful anger seems to have mellowed.

On Friday, I dropped by the Catalyst, curious to see what Riff Raff would sound like through that venue's sound system. The Soquel foursome sounded good, although, like many local bands, they do better in more intimate joints. With the exception of one lone freak dancer who seemed to be having the most intense spiritual experience of his life during RR's set, the crowd didn't really pick up until headliners Hayride to Hell, from San Jose, hit the stage (the interim band was some generic blues-rock bar band that was a total yawner--drove me out of the room).

Hayride--a heavily tattooed proprietor of hard-rockin', drinkin', fightin' psychobilly music--was fun to dance to and to watch. Their frontman is the quintessential greaser cool-cat, with hat, dark glasses and a beauty of a stand-up double bass, which was getting dizzy from the spinning it endured.

Tape Review--Duckbutter

This foursome popped its head up a while back and then went into hiding. Now Duckbutter is back with a new six-song demo that's really pretty decent. These guys play intense rock music that'll probably be most enjoyed by people who like Locus, Witchhook Sky, Herbert and Vincent's Ear. The tape offers good vocals with kinda weird lyrics, heavy guitar and slow- to mid-tempo songs with a definite metal influence. (Duckbutter, 2255 Twin Hills Drive, Santa Cruz, 95065)

Upcoming

Recommended: Friday's show at the Whole Earth Cafe (UCSC campus) with the What-Nots and Soda Pop Fuck You, along with Berkeley's Schlöng and Lopez (5pm, $4). You can go right from there to another good show at the Vet's Hall--Black Label and The Undecided, with the Humpers, Battalion of Saints and Damnation (see calendar section). The Undecided plays on Sunday with Buddy's Riot at Emi's (21 plus, 10pm). One week from Sunday, the Swingin' Utters come home to play with the Queers, It., Reliance and Black Label at the Vet's Hall (all ages, $6/$7, 8pm).
Michael Mechanic

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From the September 19-25, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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