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Beat Street
By Todd S. Inoue

Almost Opening Night:
Wot'll it be? The Usual ...

The finishing touches are being applied to The Usual, the new club at the space that F/X once inhabited. Co-owners Paul Gerhardt and David Farling have taken over the keys to the venerable location at the corner of San Salvador and South First streets in downtown San Jose. The Usual will boast new lighting, air conditioning, a booming sound system and custom architecture. Other changes include gutting, leveling and replacing the chipped dance floor. Many people freaked when a historic terrazzo entryway was torn up and replaced with tile. "That was the thing I got the most grief for," Gerhardt says. "It was chipped and cracked. So we were going to either fix it or change it. We're trying to change the whole place, so what are we going to do? Not change that?"

The weekly schedule looks like this: Tuesday will be salsa and multicultural-oriented music. Wednesday will be a '70s-music theme night with DJs and an occasional band. Thursday, Friday and Saturday will be everything from groove-oriented rock music to rockabilly. The focus will be on live bands, but DJs will be thrown in every other weekend. Sunday will be reserved for house music. Booking is being handled by Joey Meyers. January is looking promising; tentative shows include Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys, Papa's Culture, Supersauce and Audio Fungus. Opening night is Dec. 29 with Willies Conception, Salmon and Smashmouth. A big New Year's Eve show will feature the Solsonics and the Mo'Fessionals.

Filling F/X's shoes is a daunting process, but Gerhardt expresses enthusiasm. "I'm hoping for it to be a cross between the Catalyst for its vibe, Slim's for the live shows they get, and F/X. We're trying to change the direction of the space. I'm trying to make it a groovier place and not so much of an industrial feel. I want this to be a place where you can come and dance."

Cool Shirt, Man

A good way to measure a band's credibility (i.e., "downness") is to check the T-shirts fans are sporting at live shows. I kept a running tab at Rancid, Shonen Knife and Green Day when the tours rolled through town last week.

Rancid, The Edge: More on the mass-produced Brass Rail/Tiger Shop side of things. Volleyball-themed T-shirts outdistanced ratty, unwashed cotton by 10-to-1. The occasional punk-rock "T" still flew--Op Ivy, Minor Threat, Ramones--but the pit was taken over by Red Sand and Mossimo. Seen: DFL, AFI, a tasty "Sid Lives" number, and a Napalm Death. Analysis: Young, rich, diverse, confused.

Shonen Knife, Slim's: The crowd was much older than previous shows, and the attire reflected this disparity. Collared shirts dominated logoed material. Spotted: a Meat Beat Manifesto (!), two Ramones, an L7, a Belly and a couple fellas proudly sporting Shonen Knife shirts. One even had a "White Trash and Proud" number I found interesting. Analysis: Shonen Knife--yuppie fave or self-hating Euro-Am attractant?

Green Day, Oakland Coliseum: I thought the practice of buying a concert T-shirt at the show and wearing it over the one you have on was considered a faux pas (similar to playing the artists' music in the parking lot). Green Day proved me wrong after seeing couples nuzzled together in matching gear. Spotted: Rancid, Silverchair, Pearl Jam, Cypress Hill, A.F.I., Cracker, Slayer, Pennywise, Metallica, Bush, Pantera, Mötley Crüe, Black Flag and a real popular band called "Nike." Analysis: On that night, you could hear the sound of hundreds of straight-edge punks breaking their copies of 39 /Smooth.

Vinyl Variations

Check out Pirate Cat Records, a two-month-old record shop located at 14 N. Central Ave. in Campbell (across the street from Orchard Valley Coffee). The small, punk-owned business is knee-deep in emo, indie and oi!, on vinyl and CDs.

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From the Dec. 21-27, 1995 issue of Metro

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