Rock in a Hard Place 

Deep inside the local scene

FIRST THE BAD NEWS:
gallery and art-rock hidey-hole 21Grand has been served with a thirty-day eviction notice and is planning an emergency benefit concert on April 28. Performers lined up to participate reportedly include Moe! Staiano, Pamela Z, Matt Ingalls, Lemon Lime Lights, and many more, along with videos by Survival Research Labs, Harrod Blank, Nina Paley, et al. Patrons of the arts can contact 21grand@21grand.com.

If you like your pop brash, boyish, and hook-laden, this'll be a good week. Noise Pop regular Carlos is putting out its fourth record, Devil's Slide, on Pavement alum Scott Kannberg's Amazing Grease label. The nine-year trio, having become a foursome with the addition of ex-Alice Donut guitarist Richard Marshall, gives you what we've come to expect of indie rock in the post-Pixies era: plaintive vocals with lazy-dazy harmonies, cranky guitars growling a thick mist over the proceedings and doing that triphammer thumping rhythm thing that's gone over well for the last thirty-odd years (cf. Jonathan Richman poking fun at his old band the Modern Lovers in "Monologue About Bermuda"). The sheer fact that they have a catchy, clanking opener called "Heavy Metal Monday" ought to count for something, and does. Carlos celebrates its CD release with John Vanderslice and the Moore Brothers at the Bottom of the Hill this Friday, which is both Good Friday and Friday the 13th. Choose your superstitions wisely.

The next night another four young local fellas, these ones in Red Planet, haunt Cafe DuNord with boisterously hook-laden rock that's been captured flatteringly on their new five-song CD-EP Let's Get Ripped! on SF's Gearhead label. The disc is a staggering li'l pop explosion, full of the peppest tunes ever, laced with blazing bursts of metal guitar and vocals just this side of vintage Jello (especially reminiscent on a cover of Mr. Biafra's own "Too Drunk to Fuck"). They sing about "Rockin' with the devil in a big-hair Camaro" over guitars so distorted they just sound like static--and sure, it's a posture, but charming enough that we'll play along.

Last Saturday's Soft Boys concert at the Fillmore, as hoped, was much, much better than their kick-off gig in Austin last month, uniting Syd Barrett-inspired surreal songsmith Robyn Hitchcock and Katrina & the Waves guitarist Kimberly Rew with their seminal UK band of the late '70s onstage for the first time in twenty years. Former '80s icon and current Bay Arean Thomas Dolby joined them for the first encore, while two guys behind me loudly demanded "Give It to the Soft Boys" or "Wading Through a Ventilator"--pretty much anything from the band's more punkish first EP--and left loudly after the second encore, calling the band a bunch of pussies. When the Boys played most of those early songs in their third encore, I nursed the uncharitable hope that the yahoos were by then far away.

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