Abbey Road No matter what the old hippies say, San Francisco has always underappreciated its finest local bands. Take for instance the Monks of Doom, who, after coming out from under the shadow of Camper Van Beethoven, were stoned with indifference in their own hometown. Although the band dissipated for all intents and purposes five years ago, members of the clever four-piece are now trying to put a punctuation mark on 12 years of musical history. As playful and eclectic as the late Camper Van Beethoven seemed from the outside, California's princes of college rock couldn't provide a creative outlet for all of the members' interests. By the time the band had reached its peak in the late 1980s, much of the group had already splintered into concurrent bands that seemed even weirder than Camper. At the time, the most significant side project was the Monks of Doom, where four Campers -- bassist Victor Krummenancher, guitarist Greg Lisher, drummer Chris Pedersen, and eventual Camper David ImmerglYck -- made an earthy flaw of prog rock in their spare time. "There was really no way for Camper to embrace our love for Can or King Crimson or Tom Verlaine or Roland Kirk," remembers Krummenancher. "We wanted to play complicated music -- louder and harder -- and that's what we tried to do." In the space of seven years, from 1986 through 1993, the Monks recorded and released four full-length records and an EP. In 1990, when most of the band walked away from Camper frontman David Lowery while on tour in Sweden, the Monks became a full-time outfit, touring a rapidly waning college-rock circuit with long instrumentals, Nino Rota medleys, and prog-ish originals. They bled money all the way: As David Lowery's Cracker slammed alternative rock kiddies with that damn song about folk singers and holes in his head, the Monks took day jobs for the first time in their lives. By 1993, they'd had enough. "We stopped playing," says Krummenancher, "but never really broke up." On Thursday, Sept. 17, at the Bottom of the Hill, the Monks will gather in San Francisco one final time to send drummer Pedersen off to Australia. Krummenancher says the band will record the show and possibly use the tape with some old live recordings for a final Monks of Doom live record. If that goes well, some of the Monks are even considering an attempt at some shows in Germany and Japan. "If there is interest or money we'll do it," says veteran Krummenancher. "If there's not support, then music becomes a romantic hobby at best." (J.S.)
Free Ink When drum 'n' bass first hit America, the frenetic breaks and overdrive tempos of the primarily English DJ form drew fans from every corner of the electronic music world. But newfound drum 'n' bass aficionados faced one huge problem as the genre spread across dance floors: How could they move to the stuff without looking like a speed freak, or worse, a hippie? In the last couple of years clubbers and the DJs who spin for them have managed to find a more comfortable groove. One of the best examples happens here in S.F. every week at "Eklektic." Founded a year ago by promoters dmarie, Miss E, and Qzen, and resident DJs Sage and Star Eyes, the party at Kate O'Brien's quickly evolved from a simple drum 'n' bass night into a singular unifying force among the splintering S.F. jungle scene. At a time when most jungle crews were throwing their own parties, the people at "Eklektic" decided to showcase the best of all S.F. junglists, regardless of independent allegiances. The flexibility and the music-first principle paid off in continued success. On any given night, "Eklektic" mixes it up with the best of touring foreign DJs, record-release parties, and live MCs over a backdrop of pure d'n'b. The club keeps things fresh by swapping DJs right and redecorating the space with ever-changing local art. On Thursday, Sept. 17, "Eklektic" celebrates its first birthday with "a Toast to the Future of San Francisco Junglism." Also, at the same party, Future Primitive Soundsession continues to celebrate its second live record. (R.A.)
Riff Raff riffraff: Robert Arriaga (R.A.), Johnny DiPaola (J.D.P.), Jeff Stark (J.S.), Silke Tudor (S.T.), and Heather Wisner (H.W.). Send Bay Area music news to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.