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Kicking BigAss in downtown San Jose

[whitespace] Spitkiss

Local bands shine at BigAss International Benefit at Cactus Club

By Sarah Quelland

Two nights of music and mayhem hit downtown San Jose's Cactus Club last Friday and Saturday (March 5-6), each with a totally different vibe. An impressive array of local bands turned out to raise money for BigAss International and Stikmon, whose mission is to get local bands booked on overseas tours. Stikmon was the man behind Insolence's and Curbside's European excursions last year and is currently in the process of hooking Spitkiss up with a stint across the pond.

Friday night was a powerhouse of heavy music with Systematic, Sad Boy Sinister, Spitkiss, Papa Roach, Curbside and Insolence taking over the stage, and the kids came out in full force to support the bands.

Systematic delivered a straight-up rock & roll set. Boasting the former drummer for Tribal Disco Noise and a bassist who looks like a young Les Claypool, this fairly new band should be a force to reckon with soon. Full of rage, Sad Boy Sinister riled up the audience with its scary metal-punk speed.

Stepping onstage clad in dapper black suits, the five-member industrial-style metal band Spitkiss projected more energy than I've ever seen from them. Vocalist Adam Bannister jumped all over the stage seething with pain and fury and beating himself vigorously with his mic. Skillfully moving through some of its best material, the band closed with a slightly funked-up version of "Digits."

Leading the crowd in a chant of "Viva La Cucaracha," Papa Roach came on board next with a catchy rock & roll/hip-hop blend. With short, spiky hair and rosy cheeks, vocalist Coby Dick looks like the boy next door, but his eyes held a hint of madness as he excited the crowd to a frenzy.

When P. Roach last appeared at the Cactus (Feb. 26), it promised to play "Peewagon" for the last time at this show, and rumor has it (from my vantage point, I didn't see anything) that during Friday's performance Dick dropped his drawers, much to the girls' delight.

Curbside roared up with more speedy metal-punk and did a bratty cover of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid." Then it was time for Insolence, one of the South Bay's shining stars. The metal-rap outfit with the delicious funk groove was in fine form, and the floor was jam-packed with people--the air moist and pungent with sweat.

I'm always impressed with the way Billy Rosenthal and Mark Herman work together on the mics, and the entire band has a mix of musical chemistry and charisma that has won them hordes of fans locally and beyond.

While Friday was a tremendous success, Saturday was much more subdued. Due to a miscommunication, Sketch had to cancel, and Disorderly Conduct never took the stage. It seemed that the bands with the greatest draw were booked for Friday, so Saturday's attendance was disappointingly low. Regardless, Snubnose 32, Stepchild, ManMade God, Channel 23, Lica Sto and Systematic (who opened Friday's show) made the most of it, and those who were there seemed to dig the music.

One extra perk of the Saturday show was a feature billed as Stikmon's Circus of Horror, a fairly low-budget troupe of rag-tag Gypsy types who, though a bit hokey, were talented performers. A unicyclist, stilt walkers, fire jugglers and fire eaters were onhand throughout the night to perform between sets.

The standout was a petite blonde who did an astounding fire dance, fearlessly whirling fiery batons around her head and body. Many men looked on slack-jawed as that same little blonde, also a sword swallower, inserted at least 12 inches of steel blade down her throat. After that memorable performance, Stikmon teased the guys in the crowd, saying "I've got her digits."

Despite Saturday's modest turnout, overall, the weekend was a success. I heard Stikmon plans on using the money raised to buy a computer and get extensive Internet access to minimize the overwhelming cost of international phone calls.

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Web extra to the March 11-17, 1999 issue of Metro.

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