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Scene 'n' Heard

[whitespace] A year of shows makes a columnist laugh, cry and weep uncontrollably

By Matt Koumaras

THERE WERE SO MANY memorable shows this year in Santa Cruz that have stayed on my mind far longer than any hand stamp (which, according to my empirical research, lasts nine days if you don't wash up). My favorite show of the year had to be Zeke and Speeddealer in the cozy confines of the Aptos Club.

Zeke put a high-octane bullet to my skull like a vicious Ramones--think Joey Ramone reacting to Green Day's success--and blew my mind. Speeddealer took sweaty, loving riffs on the run and capably showed that Old Milwaukee can have positive effects in the right situation.

The Supersuckers at Palookaville swerved into country territory occasionally but still proved more engaging than 99 percent of other live acts. Merle Haggard, eat your heart out.

The Buzzcocks provided an exasperating joy much akin to grabbing that last Eggo from your sister's mouth and asserting breakfast-table dominance. Yeah, they're looking quite old, yeah they sold "What Do I Get?" for a car commercial--and yeah, they're still better than your punk band.

Theo and her voluptuous Amazon women of the moon, the Lunachicks, added a new ozone layer to my Danceskin pants. Speaking of space spawn, I saw Spaceboy five times last year, and each time they pummeled my senses into one monstrous ball of submission.

You've got it all wrong--I'm not crazy. You're the crazy one if you didn't go psycho listening to Suicidal Tendencies' thrilling ride down memory lane at Palookaville.

Real Sex Goo Goo Plex at the Pizza Junxion was a sick joy somewhat akin to the Smothers Brothers juggling acoustic sex gadgets--in other words, they were brilliant.

Riff Raff's street-tuff set at Brookdale Lodge (featuring a blistering version of "House of the Rising Sun") proved there's only one law when it comes to punk rock--Troy's law.

I'm being at held at gun point by my ex-girlfriend until I mention Oliver Brown's show at the Cowell Coffee Shop. ("Please stop packing heat, honey. I was just about to say that Oliver Brown is the Copperfield of ukuleles and the funny songs he crafts are sexy beyond Schiffer.")

Speaking of famous Browns, hearing the wistful "Mrs. Brown, You Have a Lovely Daughter" emanating from Peter Noone at the Boardwalk proved that miracles really happen--rock is not dead, it's just playing at the Boardwalk on Friday nights.

The Huxtables kicked out the nerdy jams in fine form at Skinny's--can't wait to hear their limited-release Christmas tape. Maybe I'll get it by Valentine's Day.

Vincent's Ear played many great shows, but the but the highlight for me was the one that got filmed for the TV show Cops at Skinny McDoogle's before they broke into a version of Body Count's "Cop Killer."

T.S.O.L. and Lost Cause burned down the pop-punk discos and hung a hardcore exclamation point around everyone's necks at the SC Vets Hall.

The most fun I had at a show all year had to be at the "punk rock karaoke" show at the Catalyst with Mike Watt, Greg Hetson and Greg Graffin. I couldn't believe nobody else noticed that every song they played was a blatant rip off of great punk bands like Bad Brains, X and the Descendents.

I know Fabulous Disaster plays a lot of shows up in San Francisco, but I sure wish they'd play more in Santa Cruz. They were the bee's knees at Girlfest '99.

All the vicious rumors I heard about the Lonely Kings turned out to be so true. The band is tight, exciting and captures a wave of sincere immediacy that few bands can ride.

The Volunteers' show with Fury 66 at Palookaville made the dance floor erupt and conjured up a menacing hardcore serpent named "Kick Ass."

Good Riddance sent incredible shivers even up the spines of cadavers at Palookaville.

As Free Radio Santa Cruz celebrity Merlin stated in a heart-felt, 30-minute soliloquy about Chaos Lounge at the Aptos Club, "They will be playing the Shoreline next year." I bet he's right.

Catching Herbert at the witching hour at a Friday the 13th SC Vets Hall gig was a like having a metallic fist touching you all over with evil.

Seeing the Great Divide at the SC Vets Hall was a moment I wish I could capture in time and show the Santa Cruz music scene in the year 3000 to illustrate what music used to be all about: emo yet not annoying, hardcore yet not stupid, complex but never undermining the skeletal tones that make every song real.

The worst performance of the year, excluding my vain attempts at deaf metal in Thee Helen Keller Experience, would have to be seeing the formerly great Neurosis go through trippy tangents at the Catalyst. I'm sure there were more annoying performances of the year, but I really can't think of one. Not even that Wally's Swing World show where the band did all the songs from The Full Monty--everything, literally everything, was swinging--was as bad as that.

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From the December 29, 1999 - January 5, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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