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Notes From the Underground
By Arwen Curry

Old Haunts:
Halloween shows were slightly spooky, somewhat successful

HALLOWEEN IS AN ANARCHIC dream of a holiday--the only national one that calls for chaos, confusion, deceit and creativity. Certainly latex capitalism has pervaded even the pagan realm with ready-to-wear, TV-personality costumes and Ronald Reagan masks, but elaborately disguising one's identity is still respected on this fabled night.

As night fell on Friday and the children were put safely to bed in candy-corn reverie, the ghouls began to walk. And every young witch--adequately liquored up for the occasion--was looking for something to do. Those who made it to the City came back with rave reviews about the Cramps' show, but the rest of us had some difficulty deciding which of the several performances in town to haunt. As it turns out, the cops were on a witch hunt.

Squadrons were already wielding their flashlights at the Cesar Chavez Co-op on Beach Hill as I encountered the fleeing members of Buddys Riot, who were relocating, still determined to play. Following their lead, I threw some costumed groupies in the car and drove to the new spot, the site of the What-Nots' show two weeks ago.

Buddys Riot, in full Misfits gear, looked adorable and sheepish as the members set up their equipment for an audience of distracted stragglers. Starting their set off acoustically as a precautionary measure against the Man was definitely understandable, but a little anticlimactic for such a suspense-filled holiday--a mistake which was swiftly realized and corrected. Cranked up to full volume and par, the trio soon inspired a volley of those redneck whoops and hollers Californians are so fond of imitating, with Ezra nailing away at the stand-up bass and everybody tapping time. The band's set kind of faded away with the collective attention span of the party-goers.

Then Harbor, fresh from the lineup at a show at the 320A house, stumbled into the musical halfway house and lurked around quietly waiting for a chance to play again. The band--all two members--pounced on the musical lull to set up and abruptly changed the mood with long, hard-hitting rock jams in the now-dark living room. Capitalizing on its audience's drunkenness, and with a nod to the unpredictable nature of Halloween, Harbor solicited aid on the microphone from the crowd. The contribution was easily achieved--for better or worse--and left me wondering whether all hardcore singers are really interchangeable when the distortion is high enough. The rest of the show dissolved into mayhem as revelers began to slip out of character. You can only be so spooky for so long, after all, before the makeup comes off once again.

Upcoming

On Friday, the What-Nots play a CD release show at the Vets Hall with the Donnas, the Huxtables, and the Super Midget Wrestlers (8pm, $4-$8 with CD purchase, all ages). On Saturday, the What-Nots and Riff Raff play at Streetlight Records (7pm, free). On Monday, Monkey plays at the Actors' Theatre downtown.

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From the Nov. 6-12, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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