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[whitespace] Streaking Comets

Big Bang Festival gave Comets on Fire a whole world to annihilate

By David Espinoza

IN THE ESOTERIC world of low-fi rock & roll, there's always a subgenre or decade to be devoted to as a way of further distinguishing oneself from everyone else. For the Big Bang Festival, Friday's show at Cafe Pergolesi offered an insight into riff-driven '70s rock, with the likes of Comets on Fire, Federation X and Drunkhorse leading the way.

The problem with floor-level shows (e.g., no stage) is if you're more midget than basketball player, the only thing to see is the back of someone's head. That being said, Federation X (reportedly a three-piece) opened up a can of slovenly but fierce guitar fuzz, rawer than a freshly exposed piece of skin after removing a Band-Aid. Unfortunately, the music wasn't strong enough to cause any aneurysms and clear a path for us vertically challenged folks to actually see the band. No worries though--Federation X's tone-oriented set lasted only 20 minutes.

The most quotable moment of the night came from Comets on Fire's lead wailer, Ethan Miller, who asked his band mates shortly before starting their set, "Who in Comets on Fire doesn't have a beer?" While the band boasts a fine list of local low-profile rocksters, drummer Chris Gonzalez (also of the Exploding Crustaceans) really stood out. Armed with only the bare necessities--snare, a floor tom the size of an oil barrel, bass, high-hat and crash, Gonzalez's catastrophic drumming seemed capable of making bricks crumble like paper, the stiffest shot of espresso disintegrate into windowsill dust. The very first tune Comets on Fire played had Gonzalez leading a brutal Jesus Lizard-esque drum solo that pretty much annihilated every other sound of the night. Yum.

Coming and Going

The bad news is that the fall season is spelling the end for at least two Santa Cruz bands: folk-pop rockers Wishcraft played their last gig a couple of weeks back, and greaser punks Riff Raff will go out with a bang this Friday at the Catalyst. The good news is that there are at least three new albums due out by local crews in the next few months.

Supporting Riff Raff's final show this Friday, newcomers Audiocrush (featuring former members of Fury 66) will debut a four-song EP off of Lorelei Records. While the band still seems to be developing its sound, it retains a grrrl vs. guy vocal dynamic reminiscent of the What-Nots.

On the more high-brow, avant-garde front, Estradasphere returns just in time for Allow's Eve with Buck Fever (technically available this past summer). Always up on the latest fashion, the five Estradas have embraced outdoorsmen and NRA-sanctioned garb and are sporting camouflage (Urban Outfitters must be furious). Oh yes, and the title track is a haunting surf-guitar romp that would make Danny Elfman proud.

Hard-core emo boys Jetlag and melodic power punkers the Lonely Kings will join forces on a split CD from Sessions Records due in early November. Haven't heard the Lonely Kings' effort yet, but Jetlag's latest material is incredibly angry and fits somewhere among Tool, System of a Down, Jimmi Eat World and Avail.

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From the October 10-17, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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