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Notes From the Underground

Two Down, None to Go:
Santa Cruz has no small venues left for underground bands

EVERYBODY HAS PROBABLY ALREADY HEARD that Emi is slated to close at the end of this month (supposedly to be replaced by a sports bar--like we need another one). About the same time that news broke, the Whole Earth Restaurant on the UCSC campus was apparently told by campus police it could no longer have shows because it doesn't have a "cabaret license," whatever that's supposed to be.

The fact is, we have a pathetic situation here--a town with at least 50 active underground bands and not a single regular venue where they can perform. It just astounds me.

Grey Zone's Daniel Duerr, who has been responsible for putting on a good deal of the local all-ages shows over the past six months, tells me he's pretty much exhausted and is planning to take a break from doing shows for a while and put his efforts into his mag instead.

People should be aware that putting on independent shows is a great deal of work. With high rent, security and insurance costs, it can also be very expensive,. And its easy to lose money, unless: a) you have a few bands that draw big and don't ask for huge guarantees; b) you charge more for tickets than the show is really worth, which is bad; or c) as with Saturday's Vet's Hall show, you have a large number of local bands playing for free to support a good cause.

The bands that performed on Saturday should be proud. After expenses were paid, they raised $1600--of which $1200 goes to Above the Line's local shelter for homeless teens and the remainder goes to the Santa Cruz Music Co-op, a local collective that will be putting on more shows around town.

SCMC's goal is to put on shows where the bands don't all sound the same and where anybody (except those bearing bad attitudes) will feel welcome. The collective has a core of about 10 members who will organize the shows. Individuals and local bands that want to get involved in the collective or play at its shows must come to the meetings. Members say that any money made will be used to pay the bands and put on future shows, rather than go into anybody's pockets.

It is difficult to maintain a scene without venues, and it is incumbent on all of us--rather than complaining about this or that zine, or this or that promoter, or any future paucity of local shows (look it up, kid!)--to simply go out and Do It Yourself. Like my editor always says: "If you've got a problem with the paper, go out and start your own."

To get involved with the Santa Cruz Music Co-op, call Robert at 469-9901. For more info about Above the Line, call 457-9754 (ext. 123).
Michael Mechanic

Monkey Bid'niss

Saturday's Monkey Magnet CD release, benefit and d.i.y. fest--quite a hefty package for one evening and a handful of conspirators--was a success and a celebration of SC's best collaborative spirit, an event that brought together numerous local bands, promoters and personalities, representing the many faces of local music in one place.

Upstairs, 13 sets were packed into a relatively short time-span with the use of two alternating stages. The lineup was unusual in that neither Fury 66 nor Slow Gherkin headlined. The better-known bands were interspersed with more obscure acts and the crowd, kids and older folks, stuck around for all of them. Kids crowd-surfed to the What-Nots and Fury alike, and some bands, like X-Girl 13, who are more accustomed to the energy level of a bar crowd, were amused by the youthful response.

The audience members floated at intervals to the basement to peruse zines and comics, pick up merchandise from bands, d.i.y. labels and distributors and talk to reps from local organizations, like the Santa Cruz Music Co-op, Above the Line and KZSC-FM.

With near flawless timing, good sound and a constant flow of energy through the last band, Soda Pop Fuck You, which played around midnight, the show was planned with grace and foresight and was a good time for nearly everyone--except the clean-up crew.

Emi's last local show was the first above-ground performance of local psychedelia-punk cult band Saw, who are accustomed to dark garages, stage makeup, other-worldly costumes and plenty of black light. Without the full force of their visual effects, I'm afraid Saw's charm was somewhat diminished, especially for those unfamiliar with the band. Nevertheless, it was good to see them emerge from their usual haunts.
Arwen Curry


On Friday, Lisa Dewey, Jen Wood and Bunkbed perform (look for fliers). Coming to town soon: Boys Life, A Minor Forest, AFI, Jughead's Revenge.
Michael Mechanic

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From the November 27-December 4, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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