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Beat Street
By Todd S. Inoue

No Speeding: Who needs the movies when you can rock? Keanu Reeves (right) leads Dogstar's Rob Mailhouse (left) and Bret Domrose into the Edge in Palo Alto on Aug. 2.

A Wide Palette:
The 'd' stands for 'diversity' at Live 105's BFD

'THREE WORDS for everyone who drove on 101 to get here," said Live 105 traffic guy Larry "Bubbles" Brown. "PARK IT, WHORE!" The wheels of progress were moving slowly on local roads Friday at Shoreline--but not the wheels of diversity. This year's BFD marked a significant improvement in the annual radio-station rock fest on many levels. The rotating stage that so impressed people at previous indoor fests made for quick changeovers, and the diversity of acts that Live 105 gathered made the term "alternative rock" sound true again.

The day opened with the crazy, colorful antics of the Stanford Marching Band. The display lead the way to surf-guitar king Dick Dale, who pounded his way through a rattling set. The Squirrel Nut Zippers followed--but not without an interruption from the Stanford Band, which rushed the arena to perform Blind Melon's "No Rain." The Zippers looked on amused, then broke into their psycho-jump swing groove, performing "Bad Businessmen," "Memphis Exorcism" and "Hell."

I missed Space but caught Third Eye Blind just in time to hear lead singer Stephan Jenkins brown-nose the station: "Live 105 does more to help local bands than any other radio station in the world." Uh, college radio, anyone? I came expecting to hate Toad the Wet Sprocket but was surprised at how many songs I recognized (and liked!). After a light sea-shanty version of "Walk on the Ocean," Toad closed with a version of Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl." A mini H.O.R.D.E. Tour broke out with tie-dyed followers doing spins and pirouettes. Echo and the Bunnymen earned the first rise out of the audience. After eight years away, the Liverpool band, led by international man of mystery Ian McCulloch, still sounds great. "Lips Like Sugar," "Rescue," "Atom Bomb," "Killing Moon," "The Cutter" and "Do It Clean" made the band's set a highlight. McCulloch baked in the sun with a fur-accented trench coat.

The next four acts celebrated diversity in modern rock. Social Distortion whipped through a greatest-hits medley of its hard-luck stories. Just as the fuzz from "Ring of Fire" cleared, the stage rotated to reveal highly anticipated Blur sitting on its speaker cabinets. Not one of Blur's songs sounded like any of the others. The group segued from sloppy, Pavement-like trash to trampy disco to bright pop. The band's youthful vigor and wide musical palette show just how limited Oasis is.

Erasure came next. Vocalist Andy Bell and keyboardist Vince Clark eschewed theatrics for a straight-ahead performance. Flanked by four backup singers in lamé suits, the duo mixed old and new, ending with "Sometimes" and "Oh L'Amour." The Cure finished the day in a dark, dour, fog-swept marathon. It was much more enjoyable to see the Cure run through some of its greatest hits ("Boys Don't Cry," "In Between Days," "Just Like Heaven") in a compact 90-minute outing instead of its customary patience-testing two-hour-plus set.

The wide variation of Live 105's acts shows why BFD is easier on the ears than KAMP KOME (where the roster of guitar bands goes on and on). I'd like to see a second stage erected, but that's another rant for another time. Look for KOME to answer in September with its second KAMP KOME, rumored to star No Doubt, Bush and new Interscope signee Smashmouth.

Fall From Grace

On Aug. 2, Dogstar, starring local product Bret Domrose, plays the Edge in Palo Alto. I remember seeing Bret as a member of Exigent Fall during the One Step Beyond days (I still have an "Exigent Fall" guitar pick with Bret's name emblazoned on it). He went on to play, surprisingly, in the Nuns, before meeting up with Dogstar. Oh yeah, some guy named Keanu Reeves also plays bass in the band.

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From the June 19-25, 1997 issue of Metro.

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