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Beat Street
By Todd S. Inoue

[whitespace] Two Ways to Tweak:
The Crystal Method and BT take two different approaches to electronica

THE PERFORMANCE by the Crystal Method at Palookaville reminded me of something techno-pioneer Moby once said about electronic music shows. Reactions usually go one of two ways, he observed: Either the lighting is great and the music is all right but the show itself is boring, or the show is the greatest thing in the world--due mostly to all the drugs ingested.

Being a pretty straight-edge guy, I thought the Crystal Meth (with BT and David Holmes) show at Palookaville last week lacked spontaneity, but it was a cool break from the punk rock/hip-hop shows of late. The light show was assaulting and propulsive. It could have produced an epileptic seizure in small Japanese children. The Crystal Method's actual musical performance fell into Moby's latter category. The fellas (Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland) hashed out their hypersonic beat symphonies with little spectacle. For my cash, the more hip-hop-based BT was more hype-worthy, using actual percussive instruments. BT (Brian Transeau) burned calories leaping about and exhorting over the din. The Crystal Method was more methodical, doting over its keyboards and samplers like lab chemists (chemical brothers?). I found it entertaining that both groups used body English on their keyboards, as if bending and weaving the things helped induce tweaked-out sounds. Isn't that like using body English on a video pinball game?

In between BT and Crystal Method, DJ David Holmes spun a diverse set of soul and hip-hop. It was nice to hear Cut Chemist's "Lesson 6" played in its entirety in a huge room. The Santa Cruz crowd was definitely down with it--I swear, those earthy SC residents (the ones with the bare feet and Guatemalan bags and dresses, you know who I'm talking about) will twirl to anything, no matter what the music!

Take Off

Piedmont Hills High graduate Peanut Butter Wolf is turning out a mini-empire in Bay Area hip-hop. His Stones Throw record label is blowing up and PBW is being heavily courted as a producer and remixer, both here and abroad. With DJs like the X-ecutioners, the Invizibl Skratch Piklz, the Beat Junkies and Fifth Platoon becoming the new heroes, does he see the day when turntablists will rock 15,000-seat arenas?

"It's great to see DJ Swamp do his battle set during Beck's show, so there's always an opportunity for DJs to perform in that environment," says Peanut Butter Wolf. "But a whole stadium just to see a DJ? That'd be great, but I don't see it happening."

Well, you can see PB Wolf rock the smaller venues. He celebrates his good fortune in San Francisco on April 2 at the DNA Lounge. On the docket (a Stones Throw showcase) are Kut Masta Kurt, Vin Roc, J-Rocc, Rasco, Persevere, the Lootpack, San Jose emcee Dave Dub, Zest and Rasta Cue Tip.

Get Out

This week is packed with great shows. The Hieroglyphics and Living Legends at Maritime on Thursday (March 19). The Pee Chees and the infamous Evaporators (featuring Nardwuar the Human Serviette) perform at Oakland's Punx with Presses (a.k.a. Circa Here) on Sunday (March 22). The Odd Numbers have the enviable task of opening for Japan's mighty Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her on Tuesday (March 24) at the Bottom of the Hill. ... Cactus is booking some winners. Look for Grand Royal's Buffalo Daughter on March 29 and the Mr. T. Experience, the Donnas, Red #9 and the Timeouts on April 4.

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From the March 19-25, 1998 issue of Metro.

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