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[whitespace] 'California' Dreams:
Mr. Bungle gets accessible at last

By Sarah Quelland

No one can accuse Mr. Bungle of being conventional. With only one opener, Kids From Widney High, for its two-night tour kickoff at Slim's on July 13 and 14, Mike Patton, Trey Spruance, Danny Heifetz, Trevor Dunn and Bär took the eclectic audience by storm, performing material from their latest offering, California. Founded about 15 years ago as a death-metal quartet that wore Halloween masks onstage to conceal its identity, Mr. Bungle has released just three albums (the first by Warner Bros. in 1991) but has managed to become a cult curiosity due to its unorthodox techniques. At one point referring to itself as a "toy band," Mr. Bungle has been known to incorporate everything from circus riffs to pseudo-surf rock to freak metal into its psychotic musical experiments, all while being loud, distorted, discordant and alien. But over the years, Mr. Bungle has matured and achieved a sort of clarity; California is probably the band's most accessible album to date. With twittering birds and a languid tropical sway, the album opens with "Sweet Charity," moves into the psychobilly-styled "None of Them Knew They Were Robots," the borderline power ballad "Retrovertigo" and the melodic thriller cum creature-feature, "The Air-Conditioned Nightmare," all of which were performed on Tuesday, along with other new songs and some old material including "My Ass Is on Fire." Completely unpredictable, Mr. Bungle's taken a lighter turn that's still undeniably dark and twisted--call it psycho-pop.

Many local musicians are scrambling to find new rehearsal studios. After 20 years, the Rock Garden in downtown San Jose is closing its doors. Look for more details in next week's issue. ... After blink-and-you'd-miss-it roles in David Lynch's Lost Highway and fiancée Rose McGowan's flop Jawbreaker, Marilyn Manson is writing his own movie, reportedly titled Holywood. The controversial rocker will star in and produce the music for the film. ... Though at one point Spoonfed (which features former members of Cafe of Regret) announced that it was changing its name to Unsun, the report was premature. After a long deliberation, the band has selected the name Remoter. Look for upcoming shows under the new moniker.

Ray Stevens of Clay Wheels wrote a skate rock piece for the book Fucked Up and Photocopied, which takes a look at punk rock on the West Coast. A booksigning featuring Jello Biafra, Penelope Houston, Stevens and others will be held July 23 at 7pm at the Booksmith on Haight Street in San Francisco. ... True to Form releases its sophomore disc, New Generation of Aggression, July 24 at the Cactus Club. Spitkiss, Broken Vision, Super Channel and Impact kick off the night. ... 2B1 Productions and Goldenvoice launch the first Social Chaos Tour (a.k.a. the Anarchy in North America Tour '99), which brings old and new punk bands together for one night. Held July 25 at Maritime Hall in San Francisco, the concert features two stages and 15 bands. Included in the roster are T.S.O.L., the Business, UK Subs, D.R.I., Murphy's Law, D.O.A. and Vice Squad on the main stage--and Chelsea, the Vibrators, Gang Green, Sloppy Seconds and others in the lower ballroom. Tickets are $22.50 and available through BASS.

PLAN AHEAD: the Red Elvises, July 22 at Moe's Alley in Santa Cruz; Orbital, the Crystal Method and Lo-Fidelity Allstars, July 23 at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco; Triple Seven, July 23 at the Cactus Club; Salmon, July 24 at the Usual; Not Hot, Creamsickle, Clay Wheels, July 27 at the Usual; Mike Ness, July 29 at the Edge; Insolence, July 31 at the Cactus; Crash Landon, July 31 at the Quarter Note; the Donnas, Groovie Ghoulies and Stunt Monkey, Aug. 12 at the Edge.

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From the July 22-28, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.




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