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Unwritten Law plays the Punk Rock Picnic at Paramount's Great America.

Radio Goo Goo

High schoolers go ga-ga for Rufio's sweet, melodic emo-punk

By Sarah Quelland

LAST FRIDAY (April 19), RUFIO sold out the Cactus Club. Kids lined up for hours, hoping they'd be allowed inside if they just waited long enough. In the end, most of them were. This was a teenage crowd--the bar was empty, the floor was packed and water was in high demand. I really like the Frankie Valli '60s-pop twist that opener 5606 puts on its punk rock, and I love supporting act Stunt Monkey's irreverent pop-punk--a style perfect for the American Pie movie franchise--but I couldn't figure out what all the fuss was over Rufio. There was nothing wrong with this Nitro Records band, but there wasn't anything great about it either.

I keep going to these club shows that draw crowds of young kids, and I usually end up shaking my head. I have a theory about why I can't get into these bands that high schoolers go ga-ga over. For one, I'm not in high school. But even if I were, these bands wouldn't appeal to me. I tend to gravitate toward groups that are more seasoned, more edgy, more extreme and a little more dangerous. I'm not a big fan of "safe" rock & roll. As far as youthful appeal goes, Sum 41 is my current favorite. I like Linkin Park now, but I'll admit it took me a while to warm up to them. They're great when they rage, but when Chester Bennington sings so sweet, they just sound so innocent. Evidently though, judging by the packed house at Cactus, there's a market for sweetness and light--especially when it comes under the cool guise of melodic emo-punk-pop. And really, there's nothing wrong with that.

AWARDS CEREMONY: The illegitimate offspring of the Grammys known as the California Music Awards (formerly the Bammies) has lost its street cred by sacrificing the unsigned bands that are slaving away to pack 'em in on the club circuit in favor of name-brand bands on major labels (this year Train, Cake, Smash Mouth, Tool, Gorillaz and No Doubt lead the nominations). While a CMA doesn't mean much to a band that's been up for or actually won a Grammy (and it shows), it would mean the world to an independent band struggling for some greater recognition. But, alas, the days when a local like Monkey could win are all but gone. I would be overjoyed to see all bands on major labels eliminated from the competition so we could find out which new bands are really stirring things up in the Golden State. This year's ceremony--which takes place Saturday (April 27) at 7:30pm at the Henry J. Kaiser Arena in Oakland--includes performances by Smash Mouth, Papa Roach, the KGB, Sammy Hagar, Mix Master Mike, Bob Weir, Joe Satriani and Mystic, plus Unjust (which beat out Fighting Jacks and Barbee Killed Kenn in the Rising Star Contest held on April 18 and sponsored by Guitar Center and LIVE 105). Tickets run $25-$125.

ALL THE NEWS: The Pop Disaster tour with Green Day, Blink-182 and Jimmy Eat World slams into Shoreline Amphitheatre Saturday (April 27) and the Oakland Arena Monday (April 29). East Bay-based Green Day will donate proceeds from its Oakland date to the Children's Hospital Oakland. ... Paramount's Great America is holding a Punk Rock Picnic Saturday (April 27) with performances by Unwritten Law and Locale AM, plus appearances by members of Blink-182 in the Park Pavilion. Get $10 off the admission price when you mention LIVE-105 at the door. ... Thursday (April 25), I Need More! holds its last rock show at the Lido; Ledbender, Bodies in the Basement and Poisin Jett Gunz perform. ... Next Thursday (May 2), Alternative Tentacles celebrates its 23rd anniversary at the Great American Music Hall. Jello Biafra emcees, and Iowaska, the Flaming Stars and the Phantom Limbs perform.

PLAN AHEAD: Hope Child, Sweet Duration, Picnic and the Blind, April 25 at the Usual; Legends and Deeds, Beneath the Surface, the Condition and Vital, April 25 at the Cactus; Swarm, Lifted and Liquid, April 25 at the CW Saloon in San Francisco; Jeff Hinkin, April 26 at Plant Fifty One; Mix Master Mike and Triple Seven, April 26 at the Usual; Allister, Amazing Transparent Man, the Fairlanes and Prop 808, April 26 at the Los Gatos Outhouse; Stitch, Movement and more, April 27 at the Cactus; Prop 808, Jack Ruby, Duebacks and Hello Gorilla, April 27 at Gaslighter's Music Hall in Gilroy; Rancid, NOFX and the Real McKenzies, April 28-30 at Slim's in San Francisco.

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From the April 25-May 1, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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