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Beat Street
By Todd S. Inoue

Pocketed Response:
Why can't San Jose music fans get their hands in the air?

'EN FUEGO" describes the two words written down on my pad of paper at 10Bass T's show last Saturday, the first of a month-long residency at the Elbo Room in San Francisco. With the Butta' Break Band hitting highs and Selecter G spinning records behind them, the show was entertaining from a musical standpoint but even more so just from the sheer differences in crowd reaction between the South Bay and San Francisco.

The place was packed--not just packed, but enthusiastic. I've seen 10Bass T perform many times, more than likely in front of dead San Jose audiences. This show was tight--hands in the air, crowd right up to the stage dancing, responding to multiple cues for participation. Here was a longtime San Jose band going into unfamiliar waters and turning it out. No video or radio airplay, no big media push, and it was the fullest, most satisfying performance I've seen by them in a long time. Why? San Francisco's crowd put San Jose's to shame. In the South Bay, 10Bass T is lucky to get five people to shout "ho" or throw a hand in the air. The wack crowds are too busy trying to look cool or too scared their friends might see them having a good time. "I can't explain it," says Slim Daddy Milo. "Even when we do a two-turntables version, they love it up here. It's a totally different vibe."

10Bass T, and a lot of other burgeoning San Jose bands, just don't receive live love down in the South Bay. I think a lot of it has to do with how some clubs cater to a "yuppie" clientele rather than music fans. It was yuppie-intensive at the Elbo Room, but this lot was much more receptive. They were there to listen to hip-hop music and have fun, rather than the "entertain me, worthless knave" arms-crossed feel of a lot of South Bay shows. The brand-new B-Hive Kafe in downtown San Jose has learned that it's easier to switch than fight; the club is changing its format from blues and jazz to cover bands and drink specials. It's sad when the only way you can get a rise out of an area is to book the familiar.

The no-fun virus has spread to punk rock shows, too. How many bands have we seen fry their guts to only six people? Crack guitarist Fred Sablan explained it well when the band returned from a highly successful show in Santa Barbara: "Up here, they know our image. Down there, they know our songs." I remember when 10Bass T opened for the Roots in San Jose last year. It was as if an invisible force field had been erected 20 feet from the stage. 10Bass T emcee Solrac had to entice fans to come to the front by handing out free swag. Bands shouldn't have to resort to begging to get a response. So South Bay music fans, get your hands out of your pockets and leave the cell phones home.

January Juice

10Bass T continues its Elbo Room residency with Saafir, Homeless Derelix and Hobo Junction on Wednesday (Jan. 15); Mystik Journeymen, Aceyalone and Project Blowed on Jan. 22; and the Solesides crew (Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truth Speaker) on Jan. 29. ... Lovable pink-triangle-bearing Pansy Division performs a free show at Streetlight Records on Saturday (Jan. 11). The show starts at 3pm.

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From the January 9-15, 1997 issue of Metro

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