Having participated once before in Amoebapalooza, our annual night of musical mayhem, rhythm and revelry, I had some idea of what to expect when I stepped through the doors of The Mezzanine on a San Francisco summer night. Without casting any dispersions on venues of the past, I was immediately impressed by the layout of the theatre, the size, the decor, and, above all, the state of the art sound system. I zipped up my green Adidas track suit and strode boldly in.
While looking forward to the entire evening of revelry, I was personally invested in two particular acts. One of them had me feeling particularly (I'll admit) apprehensive. The other was scheduled to open the show. Let's start there, shall we?
After a hearty and enthusiastic welcome from our capable and well dressed hosts, W.C. Von der Berc's Cabaret took the stage with preamble courtesy of one drunken and belligerent clown. I had been enlisted to slap upright bass, a duty which I was happy to perform, doing my best to keep up with the dark carnival maelstrom that is W.C. and his Cabaret. Standards of yesteryear such as "St. Louis Blues" and "I Put A Spell On You" were given a treatment reminiscent of absinthe and anarchy, punk and pandemonium. Quite a sight to see!
An early highlight from the San Francisco contingent consisted of two mayhem inducing musicians wearing... I was going to say ski-masks, but one would simply have to call them psycho killer masks that just happen to be used by some for skiing. The band I am referring to, of course, is none other than Big Black Butthole. Oh yeah! Direct classification escapes me, so I'll bandy about labels like punk, experimental, and industrial and let you draw your own conclusions. An early song featured lyrics which I believe stated "fuck" and "suck" but I couldn't be sure. The guitar and drum machine/synthesizer duo effortlessly communicated a sense of threatening antagonism I couldn't help but admire. Well played, Big Black Butthole! Can I type that one more time? Big Black Butthole. Nice.
The Berkeley squad's efforts are being covered by one of their own peeps. Please check out that post right here! However, I really must give a shout out to BB & The Bop Guns for a fiery set of garage rock which I deeply dug.
Of course, that set the stage for the immortal Franpie! A regular Amoeba SF customer (named Fran) habitually brings us past-date rejects from Safeway. These dietary staples not only inspired this band's name, but their costumes as well. Elvis would proudly have adorned his jump suit with these moldy but stylish tasty treats. But all costuming aside, Franpie delivered an inspiring set that surely shot straight to the heart of every Amoeba employee. "The best job I've ever had" was an early refrain in one of Franpie's songs that put smiles on our faces (with some reverb drenched blues guitar a la early Staples Singers that was tasty in its own right)! This was followed by the tormented rave-up that went something along the lines of, "Put it back yourself you stupid bitch/your mom doesn't work here/ nevermind I'll do it myself/it's my job!" Franpie rides the straight-talk express. Thank you for that.
Out Demons play surf music like it's meant to be played... with balls, baby! If I'm not mistaken, Out Demons consisted of the same cats from last year's Blue Demon Three. But regardless, the rolling snares and twangy axes we all know and love were played with power, clearly demon-strating (heh heh) that surf is a sub-genre... of rock 'n' roll!!! Again, nice sound system. Props to the Mezz!
Immediately following the surf maestros was the hip hop stylings of San Francisco's very own 40 Love. These guys and girl are making a name for themselves by delivering clean sounds with danceable beats, hooks, and verses which show a clear dedication to classic Hip Hop music. Either doing the straight up rap thang, incorporating a touch of reggae rhythm, or closing the set with a Bay Area shout-out, 40 Love keeps it classy. San Francisco, check 'em out sometime soon!
If you like The White Stripes then you'll love The Shelbyville Shelbyvillians! On the real, though, the guitar/drum duo brought it and brought it big. Searing big beat guitar crunch was matched only by some thunderous beats on the skins to deliver a huge sound. I was heading in from outside when the beat first kicked in and thought, "Damn!" We're talkin' serious pounding rock 'n' roll fury. It reminded me of The Beastie Boys' Sabbath-derived "Rhymin' & Stealin" beat, which was suddenly very much on my mind...
Yes, dear reader, I had got it into my head that tonight would mark the Hip-Hop debut of Zack B. Hectic. Now, I had played bass before with a rap group, but this time I was gonna pick up the microphone and bust...assuming that I didn't forget the lyrics, which I had been feverishly rehearsing for the last week and a half. As the hour grew later I realized that my slated 12:40 set time was probably going to be pushed back until after one a.m. Would anybody even be left to see it, I wondered? I wanna be an m.c., gosh darn it! I realized that after a long day of work, plus all my musical stylings, not to mention the party raging around me, I was becoming fatigued. While I had resolved not to touch the hooch, drink tickets or no, until after my set had finished, I now changed my mind! I had... a beer!
While I drank this beer (and a second one), I headed backstage with my def hip hop posse to prepare for our set. However, I was drawn out of the cozy confines of the VIP green room by the reeling rhythms of Mark Bowen! These guys slayed down a fiery set of Faith No More jams. Hesitant as I am to acknowledge my relative ignorance of Mike Patton's creative works, I resolved that I must hear more soon based on Mark Bowen's stellar performance. And I must hear more of Mark Bowen's Gabe Wheeler's vocals! Let's just say that rocking occured. Yeah, boy!
There was now only one band to go before my set and backstage rehearsing reached a fever pitch. We quickly ran through all the numbers (I opened beer #3!) and we had our final pep talk before taking our places backstage.
Luckily this occured in time for us to catch the razor sharp voodoo fury of The SicKnif!!! I had seen Ken strapping on his guitar and thought, "He sure looks like Poison Ivy." Sure enough, The SicKnif layed down a primal set of covers of the late, the great, The Cramps! Having previously sung lead in a Cramps cover band myself, I felt doubly grateful for the opportunity to catch this psychotic set. They sounded right on point and between the stark stage lighting and spot on costuming (as well as the surging drunken crowd), it was right out of a Cramps show circa 1979! Truly a privilege!
The moment had arrived! I took the stage with my buddy Trae, performing as Rap Revue With TNZ! Tough as it was to follow The SicKnif, I decided to just get crazy with it and for 15 crazy minutes I was cold fresh illin', knawhatumsayin' loc? We did some old school with Grandmaster Flash and The Beasties (that was fun!), and then we got g'd up with Biggie, went West Coast with Pac and closed it out with a taste of Snoop Doggy Dogg. We brought out the back-up singers (who I like to think of as the Zack-ettes), Tiff-Nugget and $arah Money, and we just did the damn thing! I only forgot some of the lyrics! Rap Revue With TNZ 4 eva!
The bar had closed down and after a pulsating set of Jesus and Mary Chain covers from We Need Yr Feedback, and there was no time for Shark Taint. WTF? That's a major bummer, man! With a name like Shark Taint, I hope I can catch them in the near future.
So that was it! The whole deal! I finally made it home, peeled off my sweaty Adidas track jacket and heaved a deep sigh of relief. From Cramps screams to rap dreams, from punk cabaret to Dr. Dre, it was a wild ride! Suckas, I'll SEE ya wouldn't wanna BE ya -- I'm too busy with my homeBOYS at Amoeba!