Cafe du Nord
by Dave Negative
The Avengers

A fairly humorous arguement before the show between a couple drunken punks claiming they had already paid to get in and a doorguy unfooled by their Sharpie-rendered "handstamps" ended with one of them hurling a beer bottle at a neon sign outside the venue. As security chased the vandals down the street, one of us "been there, done that" oldschoolers standing in line jeered "If you were really "hardcore" you'd have thrown that at the doorguy's head!"

I had never heard of Satisfaction, but their name alone (obviously adopted from the Rolling Stones classic) left me wary of what to expect. A cheesy, mid-60's rock 'n roll re-hash? No. It was worse... Think Wings, think Fleetwood Mac, think mind-numbingly dull 70's soft-rock complete with "groovy" keyboards masquerading as "alternative." The bulk of the crowd mingled obliviously in the lounge as vocalist/guitarist Michael Rosas prefaced introducing his fellow shagg-heads by simpering to a few co-eds at the edge of the vacant dancefloor "I know what you're thinking: 'Who ARE these beefcake studs?'" in a faux-self-deprecating display of hipster egotism before they slouched through their For Men And Women EP and some other equally awful tunes. Asking my friend Tim if he found it as ironic as I did for the The Avengers, one of SF's first punk rock bands, to have these shysters open for them resuscitating the same dreck their scene was so vocal about "destroying," he shrugged "Who cares? It's not like anyone is paying attention." True enough.

The neutral stagelighting was adjusted to a simmering red for The Sermon, a local outfit initially boasting past members from lo-fi trash rock and garage beat faves The Fells and The Revelers fronted by Mount McKinleys' all-black clad theremin/echoplex player Mike Gabriel on vocals, which complimented the moody angst of their psych-damaged maximum R&B jams nicely. Newcomers Matt Gabriel (guitar), Greg Daniels (bass), and Dave Leonard (drums) driving what little audience there was for Satisfaction right out the door with gumptious versions of "No Beast So Fierce," "Time Has Come," "Luzerne County," "Exterminator," and "Get Over, Again" from Volume, the group's premiere CD/LP, while at the same time slowly drawing more and more of the rest of us from the bar to the stage to check them out. Aside from Mike's low, mumbling cadence being virtually inaudible even after his mic was turned up several times, and my basically equivocal opinion regarding "primitive rock 'n roll" circa '66-'72 notwithstanding, I thought they weren't half-bad.

Vocalist Penelope Houston has taken to playing du Nord on a semi-regular basis as either the ScAvengers or the The Avengers - depending on whether original guitarist Greg "Scars" (aka. Greg Ingraham) is joining her - with Joel Reader and Luis Illades (both moonlighting from indie power-pop darlings The Plus Ones) supplanting bassist Jimmy "Blaze" (aka. James Wilsey) and drummer Danny "Furious" (aka. Daniel O'Brien) respectively. In this case Greg was part of the lineup, and they were pretty damn good in spite of recurring tech problems that eventually provoked Pen into stopping the show to berate the soundguy until they were fixed (eg. "Hey, you want to EARN YOUR PAY and do SOMETHING about these fucking mics?"). His razor-sharp riffs effectively underscoring her raggedly melodic caterwaul as the rhythm section followed their lead for most of the self-titled "White Noise" EP, posthumous "Pink" LP, a cover of Barett Strong's "Money (That's What I Want)" (made popular by The Beatles), and "new" songs off 1999's Died For Your Sins CD/LP anthology of previously unreleased/recorded material including "Teenage Rebel," "I Want In," "Joker's Wild," "Crazy Homicide," and "The End Of The World." On the other hand, security's rigid enforcement of the club's absurd "no side-to-side dancing" policy to the point where they were threatening to kick some of us out for pogoing - not slamming, but pogoing - was complete bullshit.

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