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Notes From the Underground
By Arwen Curry

Looking Good:
Local band changes the face--and clothing--of punk

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE DAYS when punk-rock bands were associated with a certain style that distinguished them from their peers? Peanut-butter body armor, flower-pot hats, cow tongues and bonus coffee cups were unique concepts supported by innovative music. Create a persona. You don't truly think you'll make it with just your music alone?

If style counts as much as music does, the Damones would have to be Santa Cruz's top-rated band (sorry, you're out of the alliance, Mr. Sharino). Decked out in what can only be described as a perverse blend of Fast Times at Ridgemont High gym wear-meets-Erik Estrada machismo, the Damones have the look. Leather vests (with bare chests underneath), snug designer jeans and trucker sunglasses will keep you up at the midnight hour trying to figure out which one is your favorite Damone. Throw away your dorky wallet with a chain and NOFX shirt and get with the program.

I arrived late Dec. 15 at downtown SC's Drop-In Center to witness a legion of rabid fans (damongoloids?) eager to see their heroes. Greeted with cheers after their epic rock-star entrance, the Damones embarked on a polished set of melodic tearjerkers with a subtle Riverdales touch. It is worth the price of admission just to witness Andy's lone, scary facial expression as he assaults his drumset throughout each song. I have to believe there is a missing chromosome involved here somewhere.

Chunky bass from Lee and crisp lead guitar from Joe augment the Damones' pop sheen. One problem both guitarists encountered was the dim lighting. It's tough wearing sunglasses at night, but they pull it off with cool points to spare. Chris, without the usual fortress of instruments he has in other projects, finally gets to parade psychotically on stage and takes full advantage of the opportunity. He's a talented, multi-octave (and still punk) crooner straight out of every Loverboy video you've repressed from your collective memory. Check out these tomcats on the KZSC comp and the Monkey Magnet (Part Deux) comp out soon.

Rumor Mill

A spy at TCI's homebase in Denver informed me of an upcoming pay-per-view event available in the Santa Cruz area. Soquel's teen punks Diversion versus Tulsa's Hansen in ultimate fighting. Diversion is favored by two-to-one. The winner gets to sing the national anthem at the Elderly Ladies' Billiards Championship in Downieville on April 1.


Swingin Utters plays working-class punk at Gilman on Friday. New York's finest and funniest, the Lunachicks, tear up Palookaville on Saturday. Slow Gherkin plays what promises to be a fun 16-and-over show on Dec. 5 at the Catalyst, which these days seems to employ Piscopo body doubles for bouncers.

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From the Nov. 26-Dec. 3, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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