Rocket from the Crypt in SF

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The kids seem
to be the ones who are all right. Well, the kids and the jocks. I hate those
Fred Durst fratboys and their ‘let’s mosh when the first chord strikes’
attitude, but when it comes to hearing rock ’n’ roll, I’ll take
them and all the crazy punk kids punching each other in the head over scowling
been-there-done-that adults sipping their drinks like they’re waiting in
line at the fucking DMV. When there’s a rock show, motherfuckers, let’s
act like it and have some fun.

Wednesday night’s
lineup was definitely a rock show–from the perspective of the bands, at
least. The Explosion took the stage first, looking barely legal and singing
"there’s no revolution anymore." Their old-school anthems made
me miss the Dead Boys and pray that the Black Halos would come back through
town. This was good-time singalong punk rock with two guitarists and a bassist
running around the stage like windup toys on speed. The bleached-blond singer
brought out the megaphone between songs, saying he loved "screaming broads"
and asking if the crowd was awake, a question anyone looking at the glassy-eyed
zombies had to wonder. Bands like the Explosion need to play in small, dank
rock clubs where drunks can throw beer at them in appreciation for keeping the
three-chord movement alive and well.

Next up was
the (International) Noise Conspiracy, Sweden’s little bottle rockets with
a political charge. They hung a huge banner that read "Are We Content to
Be Slaves?"–a sign that they’d be talking about a completely
different kind of revolution. INC took the stage in matching white hoodies and
played their poppy garage rock in adrenaline bursts, with frontman Dennis Lyxzen
screaming like Roger Daltrey in "Baba O’Riley." Between songs
Lyxzen gave props to the FTAA protesters in Quebec, talked about smashing up
capitalist alienation and did a couple cartwheels. The band’s energy was
so high it drove him to climb into the balcony and address the crowd close to
the ceiling, causing some parts of the audience to actually move their heads
for the first time.

By the end
of the INC set the crowd was either finally drunk or just really excited to
see Rocket from the Crypt, because there was real movement at the Great American
Music Hall. When RFTC strode onstage, it was clear they were there to put on
a show. They had huge twin cardboard cobras, a big red and black RFTC
banner, matching cobra shirts and a horn section ready to go. The small fleet
of entertainers played a great set of hell-raising rock ’n’ roll.
Mosh pits erupted like brush fires around the crowd as scrawny punks hugged,
tugged and pushed one another in excitement. From the balcony, thick-necked
fans pumped the air and practically fell over the edge trying to sing along.

Frontman John
"Speedo" Reis talked to the crowd like a true Southerner-via-San-Diego
host, spreading the accent on thick and addressing us as "Ladies and Gentlemen"
as he preached about the surrendering to the "big sound of Rocket from
the Crypt." It wouldn’t be a true cabaret without girls, though, and
Speedo called up two enthusiastic ladies from the crowd to teach us how to do
"the jerk"–a move that, from what I could tell, consisted of
throwing their hands repeatedly over their heads.

We all could’ve
left then and had our $13.50 worth, but Speedo called local rock evangelist
Marcus Durant of Zen Guerrilla onstage for the encore set. Durant had been chatting
with Jello Biafra earlier in the show, but now he stood beaming at the crowd,
mumbling something about "that’s what I’m saying" and slinging
a guitar around his neck. Speedo introduced Durant only as "Wavy Gravy"
before the band launched into one of their final songs. Durant’s guitar
turned out to be just an accessory, as he didn’t play a single chord, but
instead shook a tambourine. Then it was "Thank you, thank you, thank you"
from Durant as RFTC played a couple more songs and released the riled-up sleepwalkers
into the night.