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Hook, Line and Sinker: Old-school Brit punks the Buzzcocks reeled in a Palookaville crowd Nov. 17.

Notes From The Underground

Awesome Buzz:
The Buzzcocks come to town to show that they can still write monster tunes

By Matt Koumaras

THE BUZZCOCKS graced Palookaville Nov. 17 with a nostalgic set of sweet jingles that pleased all the "bitchy girls" and "bitchy boys." Kicking off with "I Don't Know What to Do in My Life," guitarists Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle had their brilliant high-ended police-siren melodic fret-squeals clicked in on pop perfection. Why Shelley's hook-heavy "Soul on a Rock" and Diggle's "Speed of Life" from the band's latest album, Modern, aren't monster hits is a mystery. Then again, this is America, where World Wrestling Federation soundtracks catapult into the Top 10.

Diggle conducted a Hendrix-style guitar-trick clinic, smiling all the way during the slick breakdown to "I Believe" and "Harmony in My Head." They didn't play "I Don't Mind" or "Fast Cars" but accrued mega-bonus points for "Get on Our Own," "Boredom" and the knockout love punch, "Time's Up." When the Buzzcocks delivered the primal mantra of "I Want You, Autonomy," they already had us hook, line and sinker. This was an awesome performance from an awesome band.

The Lunachicks have (dare I say) matured into a razor-tight rock force. "Luxury Problem" and "I'll Be the One" were fantastic with hilarious pseudo-English-accent lead vocals and big-Doberman-in-the-backyard backing rants. When you stick the knife into the turkey/tofu beast, please remember to give thanks to Tina, she of the PVC-leathered cheerleader outfit, whose dazzling guitar work kept the good ship Lunachicks right on course.

The band bio on Down by Law says that vocalist/guitarist Dave Smalley earned a master's degree in political science to give him the "facts to back up his lyrical messages." Judging from these impotent opuses, he must have earned his degree from the University of Arkansas, Little Rock.

Space Men

The almighty five-headed behemoth known as Spaceboy sank its gray and godly probes into everyone's audio orifices at the Concussion magazine benefit at Moe's Alley Nov. 14. You know how I've said so-and-so kicks ass in previous columns? Well, Jade kicks the asses of those who kick ass. He tamed his drum set with complete mastery, moving around with a fluid, octopuslike proficiency. Bill and John's heroic guitar tradeoffs demystified complex ideas with killer guitar solos plugged in between rays of distortion. Adam's bass on "Stoner Fort" conjured up those trippy moments when double vision sets in and two Mrs. Butterworth's maple syrup bottles start heckling you at the kitchen table. Clifford packed every ounce of "pissedoffitness" into every scream, carrying his torso through an alien epileptic fit. When Clifford changed the title of "Return to Cannabis Island" to "Return to Cannabis Court"--his political jab at the "cementation" of Pleasure Point--I started gathering signatures to nominate Clifford for president. Inhale the raw power.

High on Fire was eardrum-bleeding loud. Desmond bruised his drums like a Quest for Fire dodge-ball routine. Bionic guitar riffs from Matt pierced the skin and strangled the soul.

Vincent's Ear opened up with solid border-to-border rock. Michael's eerie keyboard work set the foundations for an entertaining rock ride. "Cheap Hotel" roared with Michael's growling vocals and a deep groove driven home by Marc's bass. Pete pounded the drums so hard I started seeing dead people just like the little kid in Sixth Sense. Bruce nailed down flashy leads playing a V-shaped guitar that stood for victory.

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From the November 24-December 1, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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