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Gig review: Fresno's C.A.F.E. Infoshop, 1/16/2012
It's a random Monday night at a punk club in China Town with a reggae band, a ska band, an indie-folk-punk something, a bunch of political street punks from Salinas and us. It's cold inside and the sound is spotty, but somehow there's a good, energetic crowd that's eager to dance and thrash around.
Checkered Past: The aforementioned reggae band, though we're talking more Sublime than Lee Perry. Which means they have total crossover appeal. They played a show up at Eureka! Burger not too long ago and they probably fit in as well there as they did with the punks at the Infoshop.
Still Stoked: This is my second time seeing these guys and I like where they are heading. For a three piece that plays without any amplified instruments (they did have an acoustic guitar, ukulele and mandolin), they're pretty darn punk rock. Obviously I am not talking songs structure or instrumentation, but the overall rawness and passion of the set came off as ... well, pretty f'in punk. The juxtaposition of Jemimah Violence's voice (sort of angelic) with that of Neat Rodriguez (snotty and brash) does something for me.
Our set: I'd like to think that we play with the same intensity no matter the crowd: 50 or 5, dancing or not, we swing hard every time. Last night proves I may be wrong. Give us a good crowd of fools thrashing around and screaming like crazy and we just play a little better. We "slowed" things down some at the end of the set (with a new song and a cover of the Stooges "Not Right") and killed some of the momentum we had, but it was still as solid a showing as we've had in a long while.
Corporate Cancer: Corporate Cancer is lowbrow Adbusters Magazine. They espouse a sort of anti-corporate (read anti-everything) philosophy that is hard to argue with, even though it's almost impossible to live. They play mostly old-school fast-and-loose hard-core with some ska flourishes thrown in for good measure. There were some super positive vibes coming of those guys and it was nice to have them in the scene even for the night.
Iwanaga: I hate talking about ska bands, because it always ends up as this "back-in-my-day" kind of thing. That's only because back in my day ska was big time and we had a ton of great ska bands going through town and some of them were favorites of mine (Independents/Blue Meanies still may be). Now, I can't tell and didn't ask but it seems like Iwanaga is at least partially inspired by that third-wave movement that hit in the '90s. And they wear it well. On an odd note: the saxophone player does this Kenny G thing (or one of those smooth jazz love making songs) that I'm not so sure about.