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The Matches
Friday, Nov. 28. The Outhouse, 4 New York Ave., Los Gatos, 408.395.5553, 7pm. $7

Recently, after their van broke down twice between Dallas and Houston, leaving them with a bill of over $400 in repairs, the Matches somehow summoned enough energy to leave their fans drenched in sweat and chanting for more, qualifying this East Bay punk-rock group a spot on the "cool bands to watch for" list of 2003.

The Matches' growing Bay Area fan base already knows this. Shawn Harris (lead vocals, guitar), Jon Devoto (lead guitar, vocals), Justin Sansouci (bass, vocals) and Matt Whalen (drums) may be the next big thing to emerge from Oakland since Green Day. The Matches have struck up a bonfire, burning a bright path to the future.

In 1997, the boys from Bishop O'Dowd High School (and their new guitarist Devoto) dropped the books to pursue the dream of every teenage punk boy. Formerly the Locals, the guys were forced to change their name in November 2002, because of a threat of a lawsuit from a Chicago rock group of the same name. The vocalist of Chicago's Locals, Yvonne Doll, became the inspiration for their first-full-length album, E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals. Sense any bitterness?

This self-released album stunned many with the band's ability to combine Goldfinger ska punk and Bowling for Soup hilarity with hints of '80s heavy metal. A few critics have derided the Matches for being "too pop" but haters might find themselves singing along to tracks like "Dog-Eared Page" and "Audio Blood." "The Jack Slap Cheer" has a "na na na" hook like an annoying Britney Spears song. With lines like "She's a can of mixed nuts with a damn nice butt" on "Eryn Smith" or the song "Say 18" about hoping the girl they're hitting on isn't jail bait, the Matches prove that substance isn't a requirement for success.

The Matches are currently in the midst of a tug-of-war with major record labels like MCA, Island Def Jam, Atlantic and Interscope throwing elbows to get first dibs on this band. Until the label stuff gets settled, the Matches will continue to spark the attention of pop-punk-loving teens who don't read the Wall Street Journal, but love the simplicity of four chords. There are a lot more serious/intelligent punk rock bands out there; the Matches just aren't one of them, and that's OK. (Mariecar Mendoza)

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Winter Music Guide 2003
The Fingerbangerz
The Faction
David Bowie
The Matches
The Ataris
The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Good Charlotte
Hot Water Music
The Polyphonic Spree
Ticketmaster's new bid-for-tickets system
Winter music listings

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From the October 30-November 5, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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