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Notes From The Underground

[whitespace] Club 138
Matt Koumaras

How Low Did They Go? The Low Down's Josh got a little freaky at the Club 138 benefit show at the SC Vets Hall.

Punk It Up:
Club 138's benefit show brought together some of the best in local DIY punk

THE VETS HALL raised the required deposit for the April 11 Club 138 benefit one week before for the show, which was why three Body by Jake security villains guarded the main stage. The whole scene was made even more ludicrous when the oafs prevented the sparse and tranquil crowd from moving within five feet of the stage. But the halcyon sounds of the Applicators' "Applicator Theme Song" transcended all and let the crowd bask in eternal KDON sunlight. Melanie punished her drums with a Clan of the Cave Bear-like passion. Michelle unleashed the finest four-note guitar lead in rock history on "U Broke My Guitar," and her homemade plastic skirt should compel everyone to choose plastic over paper.

The Low Down played its set chained to each other by power cables and duct tape like the members were part of some sordid Radio Shack bondage rite. These pioneers flew over the top of Plymouth Rock without seeming contrived. The extreme litmus tests that Hugh and Josh experimented with showed that the duo was definitely on to something. Noel sent his Oscar-the-Grouch drum kit into a herky-jerky frenzy. The catatonic gimp who held an alto sax in one hand, without ever playing it, was pulpy icing on the DIY cake.

The reason why "rock stars" like the Damones get gigs is because their chiseled looks were genetically perfected in a test tube--and the fact that they're all sponsored by Drum Bwhana. Take the Damones' 15 minutes of Cheap Trick castaways and multiply it by the 200 victims in the audience and that equates to 120 days of lost time! Time that could have been spent helping the elderly with groceries or stocking up on Hanson's far punkier "3-Car Garage."

Santa Barbara's Sick Shift spun 360 degrees around with fast-and-smooth Lagwagon-like punk. Interesting guitar--I like Dokken, too! Jeff, an ex-disciple of Stench, displayed some cool, snotty vocals even though I don't think I'll get over the Don Henley cover any time soon.

The Volunteers were the proud parents of a pit. Sam planted a cleat to the ass of monarchy with streetwalking cheetah gyrations and sneering vocals. Joe had a sassy Rushmore-schoolboy look going on and etched out sly leads that would make Big Ben stand at attention. "We're Still Here" and a cover of a Partisans song transported my body across the Atlantic on a boogie board.

Boy Kicks Girl played Blink 182-like punk but was nothing substantial.

The Vets Hall was packed by the time American Steel played. Excitement visited everybody in the form of churning street rock that stuck like Aquanet to a hairball. With whiskey-washed vocals and on-the-money guitar fills, the band's carbon-copy version of "Ace of Spades" made the weekend complete.

Gone were the cartoon theatrics, but the sound did not suffer as Riff Raff shape-shifted into a custom-made trio. Kudos to the kids who obviously loved geometry because they were sprinting in circles again. Super-sharp drumming from Thom. I kept screaming for Troy to bust into "We Are 138," but no dice.

Show organizers Katie and Calut did a heroic job orchestrating the smooth show, and just as Brenda and Donna had the Peach Pit, we shall have Club 138.


On Thursday, April 22, Dilligaf, Wyrm and Loadstar play the Catalyst (9pm). On Monday, Third Rail presents Zeke Scheck, Rubber o' Cement and Axaxaxas Mlo at the Stevenson Rec room.
Matt Koumaras

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From the April 21-28, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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