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Night Crawler 

Wednesday, Jan 29 1997
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The Mighty Donut said, "Let there be Snack Rock!" And there was Snack Rock. It was good, but still there were those who ignored the truth and beauty of the Snack. To spread the word, four superheroes were chosen. They traveled throughout the land in their trusty Nutwaggon (a custom '66 Dodge cabcover pickup) and, together, they were known as the Go-Nuts. As was foretold, the Go-Nuts were banned from most superhero platforms -- the Kilowatt and the Bottom of the Hill -- but they managed to find friends in the guise of the Trocadero staff. On Friday of last week, Go-Nuts devotees came from indie strongholds far and wide, battling torrential rain and public transportation, in order to prove their devotion to the Snack. "It's going to be ugly," warns 26-year-old Shari Hegi. "It will be a war played out with prepackaged food items, but it's gotta be done." Hegi, dressed in a clear plastic rain slicker and a pair of torn-up jeans, stands outside the Troc with three close friends, awaiting entrance. The friends huddle beneath a large Scooby-Doo umbrella and share one cigarette among them.

Inside, the Hi-Fives placate the growing soggy crowd with a set of peppy, suedehead power pop, but for all their musical ability, they cannot still the wagging tongues.

"I heard that the Go-Nuts got banned last week from the House of Blues in L.A.," confides Carlo Balboni, a longtime believer in Snack Rock. "Rumor is that they will be banned from the Troc before the night is through."

"That may be true," says 26-year-old Nate Tynan, a founding member of the Scat Pack car club and an honorary Go-Go Gorilla. "I first found the Go-Nuts in 1994 at 'Garage Shock.' They've been getting banned from places ever since." Tynan excuses himself and hurries backstage, where he begins strapping on his gorilla suit -- "the only one with nipples," he is proud to point out.

Onstage, the Hi-Fives take their leave while a member of the stage crew pushes a large mechanical device front and center. The crowd focuses its attention, seeming to hold its breath.

"It's the snack-a-pault," croons a woman who is dressed exactly like a prehistoric film star out of The Flintstones. She has barely a moment to ruminate before the Go-Nuts take the stage in all their cape-and-Underoos glory. The Donut Prince, their singer, strikes a rock 'n' roll pose that perfectly offsets his mask and crown. The crowd responds with a hearty welcome. The rest of the band gathers onstage for the Go-Nuts theme song, making the room resemble a bar scene from the Saturday morning cartoon show The Tick -- wall-to-wall delusions and plenty of tight underwear.

Two large gorillas man the snack-a-pault, and cheers are heard throughout the crowd. Cereal, doughnuts, popcorn, small jelly-filled pies, and other sticky snack foods spew from the gaping mouth of the snack launcher. Within moments, the crowd is in hyperactive ecstasy, covered in a film of powdered sugar and fatty crumbs. Some fans hurl the snacks back at the stage and stomp their feet in the tacky mess on the floor, but others just stand with their eyes wide and their mouths open, inhaling the sweet-filled air. "It's like being 9 years old," says a newcomer to the fold, barely managing to dodge a Hostess Chocodile hurtling past.

"We want you to rock/ We want you to roll/ We want you to snack," sings the Donut Prince. A young man from the crowd climbs onstage and shoves his entire head into the opening of the snack-a-pault. The Donut Prince takes some time out for serious business. "We are superheroes trying to make America safe for snacking." Guitarist Kap'n Kornut and bassist Donut Hole nod solemnly. It is an urgent reminder of the Go-Nuts' creed, posted in the lobby. Rule 2 states that the Go-Nuts' objective can only be realized through "Fighting our enemies who attempt to turn America into a health-conscious nation of granola eating vegetarian wimps." The crowd is devoted to the cause. They show their support with a joyful shower of snack foods that pegs the exiting gorillas in the backs of their heads.

"But, folks, we are much more than a superhero band," continues the Donut Prince. "We are much more than a superhero Snack-Rock band. We are a Superhero Snack-Rock Gorilla Entertainment Revue." Six more man-size gorillas swagger onto the stage, where they fling munchies and twist to Go-Nuts traditionals like "Nutrition Break," "Rebel Without a Snack," and "Bad Apple." The grand finale, "Food Fight," lives up to its name with tortillas whirring through the air like edible Frisbees and large clouds of powdered sugar coating everything in sickly sweetness. Feeling the spirit of the Mighty Donut, the Go-Go Gorillas throw themselves on the stage and roll around, spoiling their fur with mashed-up confections. The lone girl monkey (Tina of the Bobbyteens if sources prove true) gives herself over in a frenzy of apish pelvic thrusts. Down below, among the smiling audience members, there is much smearing, feeding, and whipping of snack foods. The happening is a great success, with many a new convert seen drooling in a happy coma.

After the final chorus of "G-G-G-Go-Nuts," the Donut Prince lingers to touch his followers. One woman comes away from the experience visibly shaken. "They do it all for us," she says. "They don't make a dime. Every cent goes back into snacks."

As dozens of spent Snack-Rock fans make their way to the door, a woman who had come only to see the headlining Phantom Surfers stops me with a bemused look. "I don't know," she sniffs. "I don't think their music was that good."

Send comments, quips, and tips to crawler@sfweekly.com.

By Silke Tudor

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Silke Tudor

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