Kimo's (Upstairs)
by Dave Negative


This show was almost shut down before it even started when the venue's second story fire escape became jammed shut before nearly collapsing onto the sidewalk below. According to the cops who pulled up soon after they were "just passing by when we noticed it." Riiight. More like some yuppie carpetbagger called the station from their newly renovated loft across the street and snitched. Luckily, my friend Eliot, who as Pull The Pin Productions booked the bands, was able to straighten things out.

Sik Luv!!!, a high-speed rockabilly three-piece from Oakland/Palo Alto, succeeded in putting on a good show in spite of their mics being turned down far too low and drummer Jen "Amputee" (who, as her nickname suggests, also drums for SF power-pop punks The Angry Amputees) having to play in the dark until the "coast was clear" as the rear stage lights clearly illuminated the fire exit and made the damage visible from the street. Hiccuping hepcat guitarist "Lonewolf McCool" and wild-eyed hot-pink clad upright bassist Nana's dual vocal harmonizing (akin to X to a lesser extent) and blue-collar goofball irreverence (akin to Reverend Horton Heat to a greater extent) on "Switchblade King," "Crazy Short Cut," "Red Gold," "Till Death Do Us Part," and "My Sick Love" going over well with the crowd. Even a poorly executed high-kick by Lonewolf at the end of "My Girlfriend Threw My Ass In Jail" that left him stumbling backwards into the speakers wasn't enough to slow them down. His self-deprecating exclamation "That was just too damn much "rock' 'n roll" for me!" generating big laughs from everyone.

The mic levels were adjusted and all the lights turned back on by the time Stigma 13, another local band - this one composed of four greasers from Antioch wearing dark sunglasses, straw cowboy hats, and cuffed blue jeans, were finished setting up their gear but it really didn't make much of a difference. They plodded through "Overheater," "Understand My Ways," "London After Midnight," "Night Cad" and the rest of their tiresomely down-tempo and repetitive psycho-surf-garage rock like a broken down beater on it's way to the junkyard and the crowd's exuberance, hard won by Sik Luv!!!, took a nose-dive. Most of them wandering off in the direction of the bar, the bathroom, or outside for a smoke while lead singer/guitarist Max "Rockabilly" fumed "Get your asses back here where they belong or I'm coming after you!" Not surprisingly he was ignored. Especially by the high-maintenance goth-a-betties he trotted after trying to win back to the stage with an off-key personal serenade to the tune of Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel."

I hardly ever get a chance to see Cinder "Block" outside of shows anymore so it was nice to be able to sit and talk a little before Retching Red took the stage - her and Oppressed Logic bassist Mike "Cyco Loco" Avilez's mid-80's style hardcore punk/thrash combo with lead guitarist Jake "The Kid" Dudley and drummer Adam Grant replacing Joe "Fucko" and "Crash" Diaz respectively. Although having mentioned to me that the M.S. she had been diagnosed with a few years ago was acting up it didn't seem to hinder her performance in the least as she literally ran amuck from one end of the club to the other kicking over tables and throwing barstools. Belting out "Disowned," "Bullshit Repellent," "Day 3 (No Dirty Water)," "Rooster," and "West Bay Fuck Off!" from Get Your Red Wings in a decidedly non-melodic feral rasp before Cyco Loco followed suit for their cover of Agression's "Insomnia" by charging into the audience with his bass flailing hard enough to draw blood after it hit someone in the face. Cracking a guilty grin, he told whoever it was "Sorry. I'll buy you a beer later... or something." More problems with the mics took the steam out of their set near the end, but Cinder's impromptu a capella rendition of Loretta Lynn's "Don't Come Home A-Drinkin' (With Lovin' On Your Mind)" kept us entertained while they were fixed.

Anytime oldschool so.Cal (Oxnard to be specific) HC vets Dr. Know play a gig in SF you can count on a few Jaks from the local chapter showing up to "welcome" vocalist Brandon Cruz (himself a Jak since the late 70's) back to the Bay Area with some rough but good natured heckling. Their taunts of "What are those, grandpa, YOUR DEPENDS?" in reference to the baggy thermals he had on under a pair of shants met by his pulling them up to his armpits, doing an impression of a doddering abuelo cussing them out in Spanish, and introducing the band as "Three quarter's Mexican... It would have been more but my mom fucked the wrong guy." With fellow founding member Ismael Hernandez on bass and comparatively new additions Craig Cano on lead guitar and Eric Vasquez on drums, they exploded into the pulverizing Plug-In Jesus era "Nardcore" of "Watch It Burn," "God Told Me To/Life Returns," "Circle Of Fear," "Mr. Freeze," "Piece Of Meat" and a couple songs from the unreleased Father, Son, and Holy Shit at eardrum-busting volume. The whirling pit, although small, was fierce with skate-punks and metalheads. A few of them careening out of it into my legs during "Fist Fuck," which Brandon dedicated to The Mentors' late vocalist/bassist "El Duce" (aka. Eldon Hoke), leaving me hobbled for a week.

I saw The Tombstones, an overlooked and long defunct trailblazer of American psychobilly recently re-united by lead singer/guitarist Stevie "Tombstone" for a tour in support of their Twang From The Grave anthology with original bassist Bobby Daniel and Concombre Zombi's Destin Pledger on drums, when they opened for the Circle Jerks at Gilman in '89 and their late 70's punk rock interpretation of voodoo swamp-blues wrecked the crowd like a Texas twister through a trailer park. That, however, was sixteen years ago and I was doubtful that they would, or even could, be as good now as they were back then. Unfortunately I was right. Destin's manic drumming was impressive but Stevie and Bobby came across as fatigued and disinterested. Not that what was left of the audience, a mere handful of ex-punks/ex-skins gone 'billy who stood there frowning with their tattooed arms folded or running combs through their greased hair during "Dark As A Dungeon," "Likkered Up Squashed Flat" and "No Body" afforded them any encouragement. Even "Preachin', Prayin', Guitar Playin'" and "Jailhouse Tattoo" which, although not that great, were the exceptions to an otherwise unsatisfying performance failed to elicit a response. Drew, an acquaintance of mine, on the other hand, would disagree. He thought The Tombstones were "Fuckin' badass!" and stuck around to meet them after their set.

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