Rock in a Hard Place 

Deep inside the local scene

IT TAKES A VILLAGE, or at least a whole lotta benefits, to save 21Grand. This Saturday 21Grand and the Stork Club stage a tag-team benefit for the beleaguered visual and sonic art space, starting at 6 at 21Grand, then 8 at the Stork for "machine art ensemble" Peoplehater, then 8:45 back at 21Grand, then back to the Stork at 10 for the creamy goodness of Mark Growden's Electric Piñata, the Stratford 4, Replicator, Secadora, and Fluke Starbucker. Acts at the gallery itself include free-jazz fella Phillip Greenlief, human beatbox Yuri Lane, one-woman band Salane and Friends, and "electric saloon band" Jepor Heysh.

A word about Secadora. This week the local trio's Little Pieces of Paper became the first release from nascent SF label Keiki Records (which is also mixed up with the kids from Dealership). The threesome manages to squeeze a lush and moody indie-rock sound out of what can be reduced to two guitars going da-da-da-da together--repetitively, hypnotically--while the drums do something similar in the background and Adrienne Robillard's sweet 'n' sour vocals sound breathy and bored in an unnerving but inviting way. Despite its basic similarity to the faster song that precedes it ("Gelato"), "For Goodness Sakes" stands out for the cognitive dissonance of the moody guitars enveloping the delightfully girly refrain, "Oh my god, is that what you thought / Oh my god, oh my god." If you like chocolate-covered orange rinds, you'll like this album.

Also on the benefit tip, only naked, is this Friday's Live Nude Bands showcase at the Fillmore, raising money for the Guardian Community Fund. A dazzlingly diverse lineup of rockers including Zen Guerrilla, the Hail Marys, Black Kali Ma, Bonfire Madigan, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, the Gun & Doll Show, the Pre-teens, and the PBR Street Gang compete for performing slots, and the default headliner has to play au naturel--that's the idea, anyway. The word is that last year the last band was pretty much the only one that kept its clothes on. In the lounge upstairs Cantankerous Lollies, the Clap Band, Kevin Army, Brown Star, Ocean 8, Moe! Staiano, 20 Minute Loop, and the Blast Rocks!!! play--presumably clad, although you never know.

If you've any doubt that anthemic punk has become a genre unto itself, American Steel's Kevin Army-produced sophomore release on Lookout!, Jagged Thoughts, should make you see just how silly you are. (Release parties will take place this Sunday at 924 Gilman and Monday, July 2, at Cafe Du Nord.) Often sounding like the frontman's just said, "Bring it down, fellas," the Berkeley fab four's follow-up retains the hoarse bellowing and crunchy guitar punks demand, but spread it out over get-out-your-lighters ballads ("Rainy Day"), jangly pop ("Two Crooks"), and neo-Dion romantica ("Lonely All the Time"), coming up with lines like "I'm your cold sweat epiphanies / You're my red wine soliloquies." It's so damn anthemic that it transcends punk altogether.


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