Hot Ticket

Every now and then, I find myself standing at the end of a bar, listening to some noise not really worth listening to grinding in from another room, and as the last bit of the evening's coffee finishes its work on my lower back and my knees start to buckle and I resolve for the final time that day to spend the coming week finding a Kinko's that's hiring, some fish-eyed schmuck with a mohawk and Bud breath will belly up to the bar with a whoop and bellow punk's not dead at everyone and no one in particular.

He's wrong, of course. And sometimes I wish that everyone else would just figure out that it's over, if for no other reason than to stanch the flow of idiot wannabes with shitty guitars, bad haircuts and pointless lives who are constantly committing their mental disposables to a digitized media form that's unlistenable, inedible, unsalable, and doesn't even have the minor manners to be biodegradable.

Nobody gets it, though, and so, every once in a long while, some clueless youths in some deathless backwater like San Diego join hands and don't get it together, and accidentally produce that most unlikely of rule-proving exceptions: real live punk rock. That's what Rocket from the Crypt sounds like to me. Punk rock uncalculated enough to sound like the punks are having fun. (And how angry could you be in San Diego?)

That's Rocket from the Crypt, variation number 5,782 on the Punk Rock Story that Won't Go Away. The album is Circa: Now!, the attitude is right, the songs get a little bit stronger with every listen, and according to singer/mastermind Speedo, who answered questions over the phone from his California home, the band now contains a "secret weapon" -- a new member playing some instrument Speedo won't identify.

Don't know about you, but I like surprises. And it's surprise, after all, that's at the heart of the punk-rock myth. You've seen this movie: some of you punk's-not-dead kids'll go see the band when it comes to town, which will hopefully help the band to earn enough money to buy gas for the trip to Oklahoma City, or wherever the hell they're going next, but meanwhile they'll be on stage with their songs and their friends and their secret weapon, whatever the hell that turns out to be, and maybe in the other room there's a music writer suffering through a caffeine surplus slumping against a bar and worriedly wondering about futures in the photocopying industry when you stumble up somewhere near him and bellow punk's not dead to everyone and no one, but mostly in his face. And maybe, if the music's good enough, and if there's any slim chance that, just this once, you might be right, then maybe he won't punch you in the face.

Rocket from the Crypt plays Friday, January 28 at the Shimmy Shack. Call 863-7383 for more info.


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