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Hell's Belles shoot to thrill.

The Girls Got Rhythm

AC/DC tribute band shook the Usual all night long

By Sarah Quelland

COVER BANDS AND TRIBUTE GROUPS have become a lucrative business, with groups like '80s cover band the Cheeseballs and Neil Diamond tribute band Super Diamond packing clubs like the Usual on a regular basis. Last Thursday (Dec. 6), Seattle's Hell's Belles took control of the Usual with its empowering set of AC/DC covers.

Led by gutsy frontwoman Om Johari, who forcefully belts out Bon Scott- and Brian Johnson-era tunes like a pro, and with band founder and guitarist Amy Stolzenbach filling AC/DC guitarist Angus Young's shoes note for note, Hell's Belles put a sexually ambiguous (and subversive) spin on AC/DC classics like "Whole Lotta Rosie" and "You Shook Me All Night Long." But despite the provocative undertones of the performance, Hell's Belles aren't trading on sex appeal, but on a well-thought-out stage presence and keen musical skill.

With a muscular rock & roll performance and take-no-shit attitude (Johari seemed to relish tearing into the lunk-headed men in the front row hounding her with "Show us your tits" comments), Hell's Belles are a welcome addition to the genre. The group's pioneering spirit could pave the way for women everywhere to pay homage to their male heroes, and female-fronted Mötley Crüe, Aerosmith or Black Sabbath tribute bands could be the wave of the future. KTVU Fox Channel 2 cameras were on hand recording a special for its Locals Only television broadcast which airs every Sunday morning at 2am.

Hoobastank (formerly Hoobustank), a band reportedly working with Papa Roach manager Bret Bair, sneaked into the Cactus Club last Wednesday (Dec. 5). Despite minimal promotion, the band drew a surprisingly good crowd as young fans came out to support the up-and-coming Southern California group. After releasing They Sure Don't Make Basketball Shorts Like They Used To on its own in 1998, the quartet signed with Island/Def Jam and just put out its label debut last month. First single "Crawling in the Dark" has been receiving some significant airplay.

ALL THE NEWS: A new series of special teens-only shows spearheaded by local promoter Eric Fanali of Grand Fanali Presents starts Saturday (Dec. 15) at the Mitchell Park Center, 3800 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, with Stunt Monkey, the Sidekicks, Muckruckers and Slip to Save You. Upcoming teens-only shows at this space include Under a Dying Sun, Keeping Ellis and Staircase (Jan. 12); the Huxtables, the Fairlanes, Dexter Danger and the Assicles (Jan. 19); and Moodfrye, Drain 26, My New Life and Relentless (Feb. 9). Tickets are $5, and doors open at 7pm. Call 650.329.2488 for more info.

Thursday (Dec. 13), locals 5606 play the Pound in San Francisco with Alien Love Syndrome and Sci-Fi. ... Zero 7 and LIVE 105 DJ Aaron Axelsen will be at Bimbo's in San Francisco Thursday (Dec. 13). ... Skinlab holds a CD-release party Saturday (Dec. 15) at the Cactus with Technocracy, Dopesick and Hostility. ... Cheap Trick joins Aerosmith at the Compaq Center on Jan. 9. ... Though Macy Gray canceled the bulk of her winter tour, she plans to make good on her Dec. 27 date at the Fillmore.

PLAN AHEAD: Whiskey Sunday and the Nubbs, Dec. 13 at the Lido; Tiana Noyes and the Boys, Dec. 15 at the King's Head Pub in Campbell; Setacide, Entragian, Abhorrance, Stalin's War and Misconception, Dec. 15 at the Santa Cruz Vets Hall; Good Riddance, Dec. 16 at 924 Gilman in Berkeley; Team Sleep and Phallucy, Dec. 18 at the Cactus; Slightly Stoopid, Dec. 28 at the Cactus; Imperial Teen, Dec. 29 at Slim's in San Francisco; Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards, Dec. 29 at the Santa Cruz Vets Hall and Dec. 30 at the Pound; Ray Manzarek, Jan. 4 at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco; Onelinedrawing, the Ghost, A Burning Water and Division Day, Jan. 5 at the Los Gatos Outhouse; Aerosmith and Cheap Trick, Jan. 9 at the Compaq Center; Calexico, Jan. 12 at the Great American Music Hall; Kelly Joe Phelps, Jan. 17 at the Great American Music Hall; Bratmobile, Jan. 24 at Bottom of the Hill; Sum 41, Jan. 26 at the Warfield in San Francisco; Nelly Furtado, Feb. 14 at the Warfield.

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From the December 13-19, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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