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[whitespace] Brute Force

Magnum Brutes swing at Fuel

By David Espinoza

IT'S HARD NOT TO appreciate a band that skips having a guitar player and substitutes a vibraphone, especially if the band swings. Local San Jose swingers the Magnum Brutes did just that at Fuel Friday night, delivering a sizzling set of jazzed-up tunes. Now, every bunch of brutes needs a woman to keep 'em in line, and who better to do it than the lady in red and black, Miss Connie Champagne?

Performing before a live nonstudio audience, the quintet and a lady dished out the tunes like they were candy at Halloween, though there were some yawn-inducing moments, to be sure. One of those moments came (actually, it was a bit of a wince) early on when Champagne led the band into a well-intended but unnecessary swinged-out cover of the Cure's "Lovecats." The band made a direct hit, though, with the tune "Crazy, Man!" off its forthcoming album, Meet the Magnum Brutes, which got folks up and jitterbugging. Another hot little tune was "End of the World Party, Part I," with the catchy shout-and-answer-it chorus "Swing, brother, swing!"

While we're on the subject of female-fronted bands, local San Jose pop-alt rockers Ms. Puniverse and the Runner Ups played a mediocre if not altogether boring set at the SoFA festival Sunday. Perhaps it was the contrast of being outside in the pleasant warm sun and then going inside the cavelike Usual that kept the attendance low; if so, the band deserves a second chance. (Surely, playing a nightclub in the middle of the day while everything exciting was happening outside didn't help). But unfortunately, the trio's faceless one-calorie rock didn't do much to persuade folks otherwise. It's not as if the band doesn't have potential: guitarist/lead singer Ms. Puniverse has catchy guitar hooks and a decent enough voice, but she's just not loud or aggressive enough to rise above her own music.

Across the street, inside the not-so-dark Cactus Club, neo-metal rockers (or crusty posers--depending on how you look at it) Spitkiss did their best to fire up the crowd with little success. To their credit, Spitkiss has no problem being honest; they're a flashy, evil rock-star band with black outfits, black cowboy hats, guitars hanging way low to the pelvic area and a lead singer who looks like a prettier version of Al Jorgensen and Rob Zombie. Given the ever-reactionary attitude of adults (i.e., pro-censorship baby boomers) and religious freaks toward this kind of music, bands like Spitkiss are more than justified.

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From the September 23-29, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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

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