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[whitespace] Boom or Bust

Oversexed bubble-gum pop hits the Civic

By David Espinoza

WATCHING KDON'S "Temple of Boom" show from the safe distance of the mezzanine seats at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium Nov. 18, I couldn't help but wonder what modern pop music might be like if the Beatles had, during a nationally broadcast American Bandstand performance, torn off their shirts and started humping the floor. Or better yet, what if Marvin Gaye had stripped down to his skivvies while singing "Got to Give It Up"?

At what point did innocent bubble-gum pop and the overtly sexual R&B genres get combined? It must have something to do with New Edition. Either way, KDON's third installment of "Temple of Boom" (boom presumably referring to the earth-shuddering bass lines accompanying the show) was a huge success, and fans got what they came for. (Well, almost. Warren G missed his plane and couldn't make the show.)

For two and a half hours, up-and-coming R&B and hip-hop artists with names like IMX and Solé (S-olé!) jumped onstage, sang two or three songs, occasionally stripped down to their underwear (male singers, that is), plugged their latest singles, then jumped off. It was ideal for the attention span of the Pokémon generation, who made up the majority of the audience or at least made it seem that way as they drowned everyone else out with seemingly helium-induced screams.

Following the formula that most teen-oriented "concerts" go by, KDON's featured performers usually had the stage to themselves, leaving a lot of space to work. Some like Lisa Lisa were lucky enough to have backup dancers, while others like Tyrese had backup singers. None of the seven performers performed with a live band, which worked fine since the show relied heavily on visuals: synchronized lighting, bright clothing and lots of glitter.

Speaking of clothing: Though the sign at the entrance stated nothing about a dress code, the unspoken rules for the guys in the house were big and baggy; for the girls, tight and uncomfortable. These rules applied to the seven performers as well, who all sang or rapped about the same thing that bubble-gum pop has been about for years: love.

To be sure, teeny-bopper music has evolved into something more than just love these days; there are also money and anger. With the singer Kelis (Bootsy Collins in drag), whose hit song about a breakup had everyone yelling, "I hate you so much right now!" or IMX, who chanted, "Make money money, make money money!" there's an element of volatility that wasn't there before.

The big winners of the night were the boy bands IMX and Tyrese, who whipped the girls in the house into a hormone-crazed frenzy. Veteran pop diva Lisa Lisa also deserves credit for being the first singer to get the crowd to chant her name, quite a feat considering her hits were recorded when most of the audience was still in diapers.

P.S.: Because Warren G couldn't make the show, KDON says he promises to come to Santa Cruz and play a free show. I'll believe it when I see it.

Pirate Radio

On the other side of the radio spectrum, Free Radio Santa Cruz 96.3FM is hosting an underground hip-hop show in the SC Vets Hall basement (smell the pun!) on Dec. 2. The show features local MCs and DJs, including Ms. Blunt, Namu, Li5, Rizzen 1 and Thundermut. For more info, call 427.4523.

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

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