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Mountain Haunts:
Riff Raff turns out a monster set headlining a spooky Brookdale Lodge lineup

By Matt Koumaras

RIFF RAFF ENDED up headlining "Punk Nite" at the Brookdale Lodge Oct. 29. From the bluesy twang of the opener, "House of the Rising Sun," to originals from the soon-to-be-released Watch Your Back, the band was on a mission to rock you past the midnight hour. When Josh joined in on rhythm guitar, Riff Raff's hard-core blitzes pumped monster air to the guitars, and the band commanded immediate attention that did not go unnoticed by the rabid fans.

Boy Kicks Girl unleashed a zippy set full of Hallmark-styled tearjerkers. You know that rumor about the Brookdale Lodge being haunted? Well, it was haunted last week by a snotty, pop punk poltergeist named Carol Ann, who started kicking in her TV set to the band's three-chord jingles. How can you not dig a band who writes a song about the bookmobile?

Loadstar is a beast best experienced live (although I sometimes listen to the group's CD and make my Lodestar miniature figures perform G.G. Allin janitorial duties). The trio seemed tighter than ever, bleeding perfect portions of energy and feeling into every tune. Donovan's omnipotent guitar mastery raked my senses like a full-body flu shot.

Thumbs Down awakened the mountain kids from Friday-night hibernation. "Champion" sported dual guitar hooks so rebellious I felt compelled to hot-wire my neighbor's Pinto. Roland's fluid bass lines were entirely worth missing the Full House peep-hole episode for. You know you are rocking when the only toddler in the house is shaking in the front row to your tunes in a Raffi-like dementia.

CD Review: District 17/Port Radium split L.P.

As a camp counselor at Foster Farms, I warned all the kids not to go running around the camp because they would run straight into the electric security system that pinned all the animals in. Needless to say, my warning led to a group of 12 kids determined to test my force-field myth. That same feeling of electrical rebellion takes place here with District 17's indie-charged rock syrup. "Skateboarding 101" soars with J.P.'s guitar pulling off some truly incredible distorted magic. "Autumn Laureate" lays down thick and sad riffs waxing on a pristine high-end guitar shine. Johnny's four-stringed loops are full of more interesting characters than Cannonball Run. "Small Block Mopar" shreds and dunks the monkey in grease for life with "Don't care if I lose every race, I built this motor breakin' my own damn knuckles." Hell, yeah! As they say in Santa Cruz, DIY or tie-dye! Even Congressman Sam Farr has all the District 17 releases stashed under the dashboard in D.C. because it's the American way. Contact the band at [email protected] or 811 Day Circle, Pacific Grove, 93950.

Washington's Port Radium epoxies solid Superchunk-ish melodies to your noggin with heavenly vocals and tempo rushes that lift you up from the neck. There's an assortment of intricacies breeding behind what seems at times the sparsest of structures. The guitars on "5:46" emit more shocking golden tones than listening than an X-rated Ham Radio convention. Write Port Radium c/o Gallon Key Recordings, Box 815, Olympia, WA 98507.


Soba and Adverse Side-fx play the Aptos Club Thursday; Pulley, Nerve Agents, Volunteers and Thumbs Down play the SC Vets Hall Friday.

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From the November 3-10, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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