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[whitespace] Bungle Love

Estradasphere, Daiquiri and Tub Ring pay tribute to Mr. Bungle at Moe's

By David Espinoza

THE OFFICIAL BILLING of the night said Estradasphere at Moe's Alley Sunday, Nov. 12, but it should have been called a Mr. Bungle Tribute Show. Not that the connection between Bungle's Trey Spruance and our local saviors of bubble-gum-death-mush is any secret--Spraunce co-produced Estrada's debut album, It's Understood.

It was the two bands that Estradasphere had hooked up with for a mini-weekend tour that made the case. From Ottowa, Canada, came Daiquiri, featuring the guitarist from the Tom Green Show. As entertaining as three macho thrash-metal dudes and a shrieking little lead singer can be, there wasn't a whole lot that would make someone want to visit Ottowa and see the group again. The fact that the foursome had lost its bassist two days earlier and had picked up a guy in L.A. who learned Daiquiri's entire album overnight was no excuse--most folks wouldn't toss these guys a penny if they were playing out in the street.

The real fun began when Chicago's Tub Ring got on stage. Like any true disciple of Bunglism, Tub Ring makes music the way Dr. Frankenstein makes creatures--a lot of pieces hastily sewn together. The band's mellow opening Middle East-derived tune didn't fool anyone, as it ended with an abrupt ear-splitting crunch--just as expected. What sets Tub Ring aside from your average asylum-prone crew isn't so much the bone-breaking metal riffage spaced between carnival music or swing-techno-jazz flirtations; it's the amount of energy they put into it.

Backed by a puckish, sweat-spraying drummer, the rest of the guys bopped about like white-boy jumping beans, working the minute crowd into a frenzy. And yet, for a band that plays hard-core eclecto-experimental rock, the members of Tub Ring could pass for a bunch of dotcom yuppies (they did plug their website at the end of the set), especially their casual-yet-still-hip dressed lead singer. It's after you get up close and listen to keyboardist Rob explain why he gets a discount on the brand of keyboard he uses due to an incident involving broken keys and a bloodied hand that you get the real picture. It was this same keyboardist who'd later ride his keyboard like a horse on stage and eventually lay on top of it in an affectionate "we're more than just friends" way.

When all was said and done, Tub Ring's musical mayhem still couldn't break out of the confines of Mr. Bungle's own niche. In other words, Tub Ring may be great live, but it would be wiser to get a copy of Bungle's latest album if you've never heard its sound. Offhand, I can think of only two bands that have been able to transcend such a wide range of styles and not be dismissed as a rip-off act: Nuclear Rabbit and Estradasphere.

Friday Shows

Local funkalicious quartet the Zealots are making their rounds in town, hitting the Catalyst this Friday (Nov. 17) alongside Bay Area faves Vinyl. If you dig the instrumental peanut-butter-and-jam band stuff, be sure to get a hold of the Zealots' self-titled three-song CD on Slade Records. Also this Friday, raw rock & rollers Hate Mail Express play a night of "the somethings" bands with the Pattern, the Shattered and the Smocks. Location? Undisclosed, but you can decode this phone number: HAN-TRD1 and find out. Finally, This Computer Kills and local project Work-Sin-Progress play the Porter Sound Box at UCSC at 8pm.

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From the November 15-22, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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