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Swarm breaks out of the hive.

Bastardos Bounce

Los Bastardos de Amor played their best set yet last Saturday at the Icon

By Sarah Quelland

LAST SATURDAY (Nov. 2), the Icon Nightclub hosted a hot lineup of Bay Area bands, including the Substitutes, SECURITY, Swarm and Point 3. Icon booker Jimmy Arceneaux handpicked these groups to share the bill with his own Los Bastardos de Amor. It was a great night for local music.

Looking comfortable onstage and playing well, the guys in Los Bastardos de Amor were having a blast--that was obvious. Fans were digging the band's brand of hard pop and signature bounce. Frontman Arceneaux is a pro at entertaining a crowd. He announced, "These are not bitter love songs" before busting into "Love Is Suicide." Whatever you say, Jimmy! Most of Bastardos' songs, like "When She Comes Around" (with the singsong nursery-rhyme lyrics "It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is lonely / Ring around the rosie, pocketful of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall in love"), follow a similar line of thought. Other highlights of the set included "Fall Apart at the Seams," on which he sings, "Tell me how does it feel to know that you just lost my heart? / No, I won't take you back again." Arceneaux makes his loves and losses real. When he closes his eyes, he seems to see someone specific in his memory.

Then again, on "I Wanna Be Married to Buffy" and "Heaven, Hell or Graceland," he uses figures from pop culture as inspirations. "Whatever Happened to Jon-Benet?" is the saddest topical song as Arceneaux sings of young Jon-Benet Ramsey's "Barbie-doll smile" and grieves, "You came like summer / You lived your life like suicide / And your mommy lied / When will we ever learn? / When will we ever have our own dreams? / Not just childish schemes?"

The band closed with two songs from Arceneaux's Swerver days: "Eating Paste" and "Hemi-Head." Intriguingly, he throws a lyric from "Eating Paste" into Bastardos' "Not Too Proud." I asked him about it later, and he explained, "I sometimes will reference something I wrote from the past. It kind of reminds me of where I am now." A cover of T. Rex's "20th-Century Boy" rounded out the impressive set.

It's always a thrill to see Swarm, too. Now featuring only two members (frontman Mark Osegueda and guitarist Rob Cavestany) of Bay Area thrash legends Death Angel (drummer Andy Galeon didn't play Saturday's show and is reportedly only doing the rare Death Angel gigs for now), Swarm is one of the best rock bands around. The group sells a rock & roll fantasy. Osegueda is Paul Stanley, Jim Morrison and Robert Plant all rolled into one sexy package, and the way he sings, well, you'd think he was born with three lungs. He can hold a note forever. Swarm's live show is like a well-paced striptease, with Osegueda slowly removing one layer at a time until he's bare-chested and his long dreadlocks are whipping around his sculpted body. The band's Devour EP doesn't even begin to capture the skilled showmanship and provocative power of Swarm's live performances. I've seen Swarm play at a variety of venues--including unlikely spots like the parking lot at Bennigan's--and the band has always been amazing. You get the sense that the group never leaves a stage unsatisfied. At the end of Swarm's set, old-school fans were calling for a Death Angel cover. Instead, the band closed with Swarm's "Beyond the End," but revealed that Death Angel will be playing somewhere in Sacramento on Nov. 30. Swarm's next show is Nov. 22 at Bourbon Street in Concord.

HOT TOPIC: Deviation, the former Wednesday-night Goth and industrial haunt at Kleidon's Lounge, has moved to Waves Smokehouse & Saloon. Now held every other Tuesday, the next Deviation is scheduled for Nov. 19. ... Keeping Ellis, A Burning Water, the Genues and For the Design play an all-ages show Friday (Nov. 8) at the Central Park YMCA (1717 The Alameda, San Jose). ... Ray Stevens and Future Now DJs spin Saturday (Nov. 9) at the Ghetto Fabulous video premiere at Plant 51.

PLAN AHEAD: Greg Dean, Nov. 7 at Plant 51; SECURITY, Ones and Zeros and Karate High School, Nov. 9 at Pine Street Bar in Livermore; Inventing Edward, Robert + Karen, Denison Witmer and Jumper Cable Sweatshirt, Nov. 9 at the Mitchell Park Center in Palo Alto; Drunken Starfighter, Nov. 11 at Kleidon's Lounge.


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From the November 7-13, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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

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