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Notes From The Underground

[whitespace] Lee Damone
Matt Koumaras

Carbon Copy: Lee Damone of the Damones flopped his mop top like Dee Dee Ramone at the Saturn Cafe last week.

The Late, Late Show:
Saturn Cafe's Tuesday night show with the Damones burns the midnight oil

THE DAMONES completed its "F--k Work Tomorrow" world tour at the Saturn Cafe last Tuesday, but started it way past the midnight hour. Somebody must have slipped lithium in my decaf because I still thought these Bronx bombers generated more heroic licks than rubbing veal all over your face during feeding time at the SPCA, even though it was way too late.

Joseph's clean guitar safaris on "Leaving Town" and "Bus Stop" paid sweet homage to the DK's "East Bay Ray." "Bus Stop" is too long--I missed the bus and caught the next one during the time it took that song to lumber on. Lee morphed into the second coming of Dee Dee Ramone on bass--complete with a permanent pout, jet-black mop top and limber rock stance. Andrew's robotic drumming on "Tom Cat" skipped everything human and moved on to the Bermuda triangle of drum deities. The melodramatic poses executed by lead vocalist Christian were priceless--enjoy his foppish antics while you can, because he soon turns 33, which is too old for the Damones' rigid 23-32 age requirement.

Opening the show was the Volunteers, another punk band doing something different--so much so that Peter Falk (a.k.a. Detective Columbo) took out his glass eye and said they were a band he was "going to keep an eye on in '99." The Volunteers sounded like the Damned playing tug of war with the Workin' Stiffs just before the bar's last call. The Volunteers' songs are instantly ready for a sing-along and would make the most immobile punk want to pick up a pogo stick and do the fandango. Sam brilliantly delivered the poetics of pub life on his vocals on "We're Still Here." Mark pulled off some neat high-end bass lines. This band is also devoid of any NOFX influences, for which it deserves some sort of badge of honor or at least a smiley face on its report card. I've never heard a song quite as terminally out of tune as its cover of Menace's "Last Year's Youth," but that still was sloppy perfection.


I was impressed from the get-go by Buster's musical eruptions at Skinny McDoogle's on Nov. 20. Guitarist Darren and bassist Gene performed arpeggio acrobatics that worked well with the brooding "speak/sing" vocals. The keen attention to dynamics helped build a mysterious Jesus Lizard-like atmosphere. When a guest vocalist took over for Buster's finale, I discovered that putting a drunk on the mic isn't necessarily a bad thing. His macho posturing during a tirade about a redneck (probably autobiographical) provided more visual candy than watching Henry Rollins model the Gap's new line of puffy buccaneer shirts. Rock & roll ain't noise pollution!

Dilligaf also played that show and fired up a mean groove. Demons rose from the mouth of hell to succumb to the brave new metal. You can tell this trio has been busy in the studio recording because the newer material seems just as defined as the old classics off Vent. Arch's harmonic guitar squeals are more fun than aiming a crossbow at the head of Nestor, the seldom-talked-about but truly diabolical Teletubbie.


On Sunday, Dec. 6, at the downtown Vets Hall, Fury 66, 88 Fingers Louie, Great Divide and No Motive play (all ages, $7). Also on Sunday, Dec. 6, at Kuumbwa, Oliver Brown and his ukelele demons celebrate a CD release party. On Tuesday, Dec. 8, Jonathan Richman at the Catalyst.
Matt Koumaras

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From the December 3-9, 1998 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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