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Beat Street
By Todd S. Inoue

Your Attention's Undivided:
The nose-thumbing punk of the Queers

THE MOST BELOVED and despised punk band around must be the Queers. You either abhor or adore their brutal sarcasm set to a buzz-saw, Ramones-meets-Beach Boys assault. According to guitarist and vocalist Joe Queer, the name (which isn't meant to be a negative thing but an expression of alienation) alone was enough to piss off the local art establishment in their native Portsmouth, N.H., when they began gigging in 1990. "It's just a name that stuck out like the Ramones or the Sex Pistols," he says, calling from a tour stop in Pittsburgh, Pa. "People who aren't into the music think we're gay, and sometimes we catch flak [from homophobes]. That's died down. In this day and age, there's so many crazy band names, like Hootie & the Blowfish, that people don't even think about it."

When not chapping the hides of the faint-hearted, the Queers out-Ramones the real Ramones with a sling of Rocket to Russia-type guitars and Brian Wilson-inspired sing-song vocals. And like other masters of irony--the Angry Samoans and the Meatmen--the Queers manage to mock any and all institutions; songs like "She's a Cretin" and "Granola Head" are obvious jokes. One of the band's most provocative songs, "Ursula Finally Has Tits," is also its most popular, prompting heavy soccer-hooligan chants by the crowd of the chorus: "Our attention's undivided/Dammit we're excited!/Cause Ursula finally has tits."

"We're about having fun--like the Dickies, Ramones, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys," says Queer. "It's so conceited that some bands go up there and talk down to the audience and use the stage as a pulpit--like they know so much more than the audience and want to convey a big message, filled with anguish and pain. They don't look like they're having fun; they look like it's a job. It's a goofy world. You have to be able to laugh at yourself and be yourself. We never went out there and had a big message."

Obviously. The band's fans know this and relish its catchy immediacy--you don't have to sift through the first two minutes of feedback and hidden metaphors to find out what's bugging the group: "This Place Sucks," "You're Tripping," "I Hate Everything," even "I Can't Stop Farting." The Queers appear Friday at Palo Alto's Cubberley Community Center along with a supergrouping of Lookout! bands: Mr. T. Experience, the Hi-Fives and the Groovie Ghoulies. This show is stacked with talent, so get there early.

Dream Team

Mark June 23 on your calendar. An amazing show not seen in these parts will happen when Sleater-Kinney, Cold Cold Hearts, The Need, Third Sex, Emily's Sassy Lime, Refect Refect, Mocket and a few more take over the Billy DeFrank Lesbian and Gay Community Center on Stockton Street in San Jose. Team Dresch was slated to headline, but one of its members had to take off for New York City, according to Donna Dresch. Still, if you're into the whole Kill Rock Stars/Chainsaw Records thing, this is the event of the summer.

Salmon Season

Salmon sold more than 400 copies of Flourished With Candies, was featured on the cover of a metropolitan-newspaper entertainment insert that shall remain nameless, and is about to clear another local music hurdle: headlining the Edge in Palo Alto. The show is Thursday (June 6), with Crack and Dimestore Hoods supporting. ... Local punk-owned record store Pirate Cat Records is putting on a show on Sunday (June 9) with Duster and Scenic Vermont. It takes place at their shop at 14 N. Central Ave. in Campbell at 2pm. ... I goofed up on Cornershop's names last week and couldn't sleep until I got it corrected. Nick Simms played drums, Paolo Atvei played sitar and Pete Bengry played percussion.

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From the June 6-12, 1996 issue of Metro

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