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SFO3 Diary 

Wednesday, Jul 31 1996

Page 2 of 4

Post-party, this writer joined a tiny group of cash-challenged press types on the underutilized SFO shuttle service. As the only four slobs on the plush coach to 11th Street, subjected to the stoner shtick of Live 105's Web Fingers for the duration of the ride, we were assaulted with fairly hilarious memories of eighth-grade ski trips. "Everybody have your permission slips?" asked BAM's Bill Crandall. (J.S.)

Slim's Led by Bottom of the Hill assistant booker Anthony Bonet, alt-rockers Portashrine took the stage at Slim's with a dead-on cover of Guided by Voices' "The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory." After running through a set of Bonet's original tunes, the band closed with a hopped-up, highly appropriate cover of "There's No Business Like Show Business," and the spirit of Ethel Merman slamdanced until a Slim's security guy ushered her out. (J.S.)

Transmission Theater Having secured a chair upon which to rest my fat, critical ass, I became fascinated by a common rock-show sight: the Public Display of Arousal. A rocker couple at a table between me and the stage were cast into perfect anatomical silhouettes by the lights. They seemed to have only one tongue between them, and swapped it back and forth through three sets of music. How the music could have set them off, I don't know: Giant Robot, the latest Buckethead outfit, in particular, stimulated my prostate not an ampere. The Yngwie Malmsteen shredder disease works better with dada silliness than it ever did with the earnest, tight-pantsed hair-farmer set. But shredding is still shredding and technical mastery is just that. However, I'm not going to say anything unkind about His Anonymousness after the proficiency he demonstrated with nunchucks.

M.I.R.V. came on abruptly and immediately launched into the opening refrain of Black Sabbath's eponymous first song. The rocker couple broke oral formation long enough for the guy to make the devil sign. M.I.R.V. I like: a comedy band with actual comic (and musical) ability. "Loving the Schmoozefest 5000?" asked a guitarist. "Love ya, babe -- don't you go changing." M.I.R.V. went through heavy genre confusions, from tearful Italian balladeering to robot voice-box manipulations, flanked by various slide images of the Unabomber suspect's high school and college yearbook photos.

The rocker couple pipelined spit at an industrious rate during the break. I started to wonder about proper etiquette: Kick the chairs out from under them? Tap a shoulder? Masturbate?

Walrus came out and competently played something I've heard several dozen times before in mildly different arrangements. The trio seemed to have about a percentage point of body fat among them, though only the bassist and drummer came out shirtless. The guitarist tried to remove his tee after the second song, revealing the lower quadrant of a washboard stomach -- prolific at sit-ups, these Walruses -- but his guitar strap foiled skins-team solidarity; he left the shirt half-on, half-off. On the bright side, the drummer did make wonderful anguished faces; you'd have thought he'd snared his toe on something back there.

As for Flower S.F.: I grew afraid that the rocker couple would get some of what they were Getting Some of on me, so I left. Before I navigated the near-capacity crowd, I heard generic groove-metal to my left. Glam costumes sparkled in my periphery. A middle-aged man wielding a glass of white wine slowed my retreat. JoJo remains a mystery. (M.B.)

CoCo Club/Paradise Lounge Recent East Bay transplant Dai Phx (pronounced "day phoenix"), a stone-free guitarist and Tracy Chapman look-alike, led her honky rhythm section through a throwback set of Hendrixian blooze and hard rock. Back at the Paradise, "cowboy" experimentalist Jim Campilongo and his 10 Gallon Cats toyed with their chosen milieu the way the Mermen's Jim Thomas shreds surf music conventions, using Campilongo's western swing orientation as a launching pad for some of the city's more adventurous musicianship. Following the Cats' packed performance, the Supernaturals played their usual hit-and-miss set, combining inventive R&B with the odd buzz-killing bossa nova. Next door at the Transmission Theater, the power trio called Walrus came down heavy with a pretty good Helmet impersonation. "I don't do shirts off," someone leaving was heard to say; had he stayed, he might've been duly impressed by these testosterone-steeped newcomers. "Are there any industry people in the house?" Los Angelitos frontman Piero Ornelas queried midway through his band's bubbly midnight showcase at the Paradise. "Security -- get 'em out of here!" (J.S.)

While producers talked very seriously about producing and writers talked very seriously about writing, the musicians gathered at the Press Club communicated in their own way -- over cocktails and under the guise of humor. Overheard: "How many lead singers does it take to screw in a light bulb? Just one, they stand there and let the world revolve around them." "What did the drummer get on his SATs? Drool." "What do you call a trombone player with a pager? Optimistic." (S.T.)

Panel: "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" Most issues discussed by this writers' panel were of interest -- surprise -- only to writers. Chaos and heckling were sadly lacking; an irksome freak in a black overcoat who'd monopolized questions at other panels merely snickered in the background. Proceedings turned juicy and sensationalist when one audience member asked whether any of the panelists had ever received threats. Jackson Griffith, a senior editor at Pulse, described having a heavy-metal tunesmith he'd lambasted promise him an ass-kicking -- through his publicist. Claudia Perry of the San Jose Mercury News -- no-bullshit tolerant and a quick wit -- described occasions whereby metal and country fans would call her to query: "What does a nigger know about this kind of music?" Billy Jam recalled solicitations from white supremacists calling him a "nigger lover" and from incensed hip-hop fans threatening beatings. Too often we underestimate the endearing loyalty of an artist's adoring public. (M.B.)


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