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Pre-Teen Beat: Pre-Teens bassist Christina Espinosa (left) and guitarist Laura Davis give queer rock a pop-punk edge.

Fistful of Shows

Forget the election wrangling and sample a wide range of acts this week

By David Espinoza

IF POSTELECTION indecisiveness has you feeling a wee bit frustrated, it would be best to get out of town before this Saturday, as there are way too many great underground shows to choose from. The last Free Radio benefit show this past summer focused on hip-hop, a move that didn't really fill the Vets Hall basement, probably due to a lack of outstanding MCs in town.

This time, though, the FCC-thwarting pirateers have enlisted the talents of local indie faves Sin in Space to head this Needle Exchange/96.3FM benefit, along with the Pre-Teens, Kindness, Mezzo and Vermouth. This will be one of the first appearances in who-knows-how-long by the much-hyped post-punkish Pre-Teens since they graced the cover of this paper more than a year ago and then abruptly disappeared.

Also of note, Exploding Crustaceans drummer Chris Gonzalez's side project, Comets on Fire (a superb name for a band if there ever was one), which includes an orgy of other local acts ranging from the Philistine Ten Revival to the Lowdown, will be performing. Showtime is at 7:30pm, and the show will include a special screening of Dope Opera Sneak Preview.

Down aways from the Clock Tower at the Front Street Pub, progressive-folkster Eli Salzman will be entertaining with his "new" two-piece band. Primarily a guy you'll only hear live, Salzman occupies a small, non-Americana, earthy-oriented nitch in Santa Cruz's folk scene. At his brightest moments, he can tie in dynamic chord changes and arpeggios with beautiful lyricism. Unfortunately, Salzman still remains an underappreciated solo artist, but with the backing of a drummer and bassist these days (a Radiohead cover helps too) who knows what can happen?

Fans of college-radio debutants Tortoise will no doubt be flocking to catch off-shoot Isotope 217 at the renovated Rio Theater over on Soquel and Seabright. Favorably compared to Miles Davis during the '70s--with mind-blowing jazz and funk improvisations coupled with electronic synth-produced pulses--the Chicago-based quartet has created a buzz in artsy circles with efforts like Unstable Molecule and its latest, Who Stole the I Walkman. Also from the Windy City will be the Chicago Underground Duo, an avant-garde act that features Rob Mazurek on cornet (and other assorted sounds) and percussionist Chad Taylor. Opening will be local drum 'n' bass enthusiasts Run Return.

Rob Zombie won't be playing Callahan's this Saturday but his alternate universe "more-evil" twin Kelly D of San Jose's Krenshaw will be. It's uncanny how much this five-piece monster metal, sludge-slinging crew sounds like the former band minus the industrial-techno and pop-radio friendly format. The legacy of Black Sabbath and everything that's come after it (from Alice in Chains to Soundgarden) remains a crucial influence with Krenshaw, though it looks more like San Jose's newly famous Papa Roach. These guys should have teamed up with some of Santa Cruz's hard-rock heads like Vincent's Ear or Wyrm--the latter has just released its third album, Hooked, and it's well ... it's pure Wyrm.

Speaking of local acts, the Philistine Tent Revival's nine-song demo tape has found a permanent home on my handy-dandy tape deck. An intentionally sloppy dive into the nether worlds of "classic" rock & roll circa 1975, with a rowdy low-fidelity edge, the tracks are reminiscent of early Aerosmith (think "Train Kept a Rollin' ") and whoever wrote "Slow Ride." With a dab of psychedelic leads, guitarists Ethan Miller and Damon Kluck really capture the grungy vintage fuzz that seemed to disappear with the advent of mass-produced guitar effects pedals. American rock & roll drinking songs are in full effect here, and hey, there's also a fine rendition of the Beatles' "The Night Before"--by far the best track on the demo. Since this demo isn't available at Streetlight, you can tape it from me for free--just drop off a blank tape at the Metro Santa Cruz offices, 115 Cooper St., Santa Cruz.

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From the November 29-December 6, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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