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Notes From the Underground

Hey, You! Get Offa My Lawn!:
Suburban punks scrap for a scene in asphalt wasteland

WEDGED BETWEEN THE CULTURAL ABUNDANCE of the SF Bay Area, San Jose and Santa Cruz, miles and miles of charming town centers, mini-malls and single-family stucco homes have been the setting for an often-overlooked slice of California punk history.

In the Peninsula towns, the kids who don't fit in are still easy to spot--they're few and far between. Sorely lacking the Vet's Hall shows we've taken for granted, they caravan up or down the coast in search of shows and good records. When this isn't possible, they gather where they can--in parking lots, ditches and driveways.

Boredom has had its productive side, spawning bands like Amagdala, Punch Drunk, Dinkus, Brown Trout and Radioactive Lunch, which all have fallen by the wayside in a scene starving for support. The suburbs are also home to a mature graffiti and skateboarding culture. The downside is abundant alcohol and drug abuse, petty crime and a high drop-out rate.

Finding venue space is a constant struggle. The suburban family structure makes it nearly impossible to put on shows at private residences, although some kids in Sunnyvale, for example, do it anyway (see The LIST). Public venues are equally problematic. The Pony Express in Redwood City, one of the only significant all-ages spaces in the area, failed health inspection and closed in '91.

Attempts to open or maintain venues for young people are still being made from within the scene, but with scattered support, it's difficult. Two peninsula bands, Puke and Vintage 46 (with members now living in Santa Cruz), played with the US Bombs the other weekend at a Gilman St. benefit for the opening of an all-ages venue in San Mateo. Also active is 65, a Redwood City record label that began as a graffiti crew and has put out extreme Peninsula hardcore music for over a year.

The efforts of promoters, bands and active kids is at the heart of any underground scene. In Santa Cruz ,a combination of hard work and local support has kept it alive. We should take good care of what we have, because one day it may all disappear in a cloud of Mini-Van exhaust.
Arwen Curry

Rock On(line)

Fury 66 and Unsafe have joined a growing number of local bands on the Internet. Check out Fury and Unsafe on the Web. The Santa Cruz Underground Music site is now hyper-linked to Web pages of lots of local bands, mostly on the Internet Underground Music Archive. If your band has a Web site you want hyperlinked to SCUM, email [email protected]. To get a list of upcoming shows, zap me a message.


On Friday, Good Riddance rocks the Vet's Hall with H2O, Redemption 87, The Missing 23rd and Eyelid (see "Playing Around"). Also on Friday, Herbert plays at the Catalyst with Sprung Monkey, the Grabbers and Humble Gods (21 plus, 8pm). Dammit Jim! performs with Hangover on Saturday at Don Quixote's (6275 Hwy 9, Felton, 21 plus, $2, 9:30pm). On Sunday, Junk Sick Dawn makes noise with the What-Nots at Emi's (21 plus, $2, 10pm).
Michael Mechanic

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From the November 14-20, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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