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[whitespace] MCs Scary on H-Day

The crowd was more into Halloween than the performers were at P-ville's holiday rhyming concert

By David Espinoza

UNLESS YOU'RE as dark-spirited as the Wu Tang Clan, hip-hop and Halloween don't really go together. At Aceylone and Micah 9's Palookaville Hip-hop Halloween show last Sunday (Oct. 29), local beat heads seemed to grasp the concept of the holiday better than the acts. While a few kids out in the audience bothered to wear basic costumes (one breakdancer wore what appeared to be a Nixon mask), the MCs on stage did little to distinguish this as a Hip-Halloween show.

No biggie. The acts preceding Ace, and special guests like OMD (Of Mexican Descent, from L.A.'s Visionaries) were more frightening anyway. Berkeley-based Mike T, for example, spent more time trying to convince the audience of his underground MC credentials than rhyming. Here's a bit of advice Mr. T: Santa Cruz isn't Berkeley--if you want our love you have to work for it. The lightening-speed MCs of Acid Rain faired a little better with their challenging blend of off-beats and jibber-jabber rhymes, though the trio needs to learn how to channel its energy better. MC Gift of Gab could teach these young 'uns a thing or two about frenetic rhyming, like how to pace yourself, for starters.

Speaking of which, ever notice how underground MCs constantly test their audience's knowledge of hip-hop as if it was an episode of Jeopardy? There's not one B-boy or girl who's been to a show and not heard the infamous question from the MC on stage: "What do you know about real hip-hop?" Maybe it's just a rhetorical method to connect with the audience. On the other hand, indie hip-hop purists should beware: excessive self-righteousness leads to snobbery and ultimately division (a fact punk rock can easily attest to).

Geniuses of Funk

Whether the band wanted it to be this way or not, the Tom Tom Club's Wednesday (Oct. 25) performance at P-ville was basically a flashback show for Generation X-ers. The KUSP DJs who introduced the band as "historically important" summed it up. Whenever you refer to a band as "historical," you are acknowledging that its heyday has passed.

Still, that doesn't mean the Tom Tom Club is washed up--the band is way too spry. With five extra musicians filling up the P-ville stage, bassist Tina Weymouth and drummer Chris Frantz led the band through a mix of new material from The Good, the Bad, and the Funky--as well as old. In a sure sign of confidence, the band played one of its biggest hits, "Genius of Love," three songs into the set. To its credit, the Tom Tom Club has always been kind of a white version of Parliament, not so much in sound but in spaciness.

The group's Afro-Latin derived funk, supported by a heavily fortified percussion section, is complemented by its '80s-era quirky synthesizers and singing. It's the same sound that made Weymouth and Frantz's main project, the Talking Heads, one of the best bands of the '80s, and the Tom Tom Club still a force to be reckoned with.

Time Spent Recording

Local melancholy indie rockers Time Spent Driving have just put out a debut six-song CD called Walls Between Us on Unfun Records, and man, oh, man, is the production sweet. A six-page pullout with full lyrics and photos is reminiscent of 4AD Records, and the sound quality is just as impressive. The quartet (with a few former members of Reliance and Fury 66) sounds a lot like Sunny Day Real Estate in its better days, with gentle vocals and melodic guitar bursts. This month, TSD will be heading to Germany for a week to play with a band from Switzerland--I hope they know such useful phrases as "Noche ein Beer."

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From the November 1-8, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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