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09.26.07

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Sonido Youth: Keith Thompson (left) and Darwin Rodrigues of El Sonido uncorked at the Blue Lagoon last Friday.

Mūz

Where was everyone at Local Band Night?

By GARRETT WHEELER


Locals' Night Out
Not that it matters, but where was everyone Wednesday night? It was supposed to be local band night at the Catalyst, right? Judging from the number of people in the Atrium at 9:45pm (zero), either I was losing my mind, or the show was canceled.

Being a person of enduring optimism, not to mention an enduring appetite for ice cream, I decided to think things over at Marianne's on Ocean Street. Pulling up to everyone's favorite little dessert parlor, still puzzled by the night's misfortune, I was greeted with a pleasant surprise and an unlikely turn of events: a barbershop quartet, crooning in perfect harmony!

What may have been a common sight in the days long before heavy metal and hip-hop is now an ode to a bygone era popularized at the turn of the 20th century. The traditional four-person a cappella group saw a resurgence of popularity in the 1940s, but who would have thought the tradition would still be alive and well (in Santa Cruz, no less) nearly a century after it began? I would have been a tad bit skeptical, for one.

But there they were, the Gold Standard Barbershop Chorus Santa Cruz Chapter, dressed in matching red sweaters, smiling and singing under the Marianne's awning without a care in the world. Though the group defied the conventional four-man configuration (it had five, including one female), it was able to achieve a velvety smooth tone rich with harmony and feel-good attitude in a flawless rendition of "Let Me Call You Sweetheart."

Sound fun? You, too, can get in on the action. The Barbershop Chorus meets every Wednesday night, and chapter president Dan Jett says he encourages anyone to come by and sing a few notes. For more information, check out the website, www.scbarbershop.org.

Friday night I showed up at the Blue Lagoon, half-expecting the place to be empty, but it wasn't. The night was billed as the "Summer of Love." I came a little late and left a little early, but not before I caught a couple promising college-age rockers.

The first was Luxury Sweets, an indie-rock quintet wallowing in catchy pop melodies blackened by gritty guitar riffs and eccentric vocals by frontman Kevin Oneder. A dual guitar attack kept the riffage at maximum strength while Oneder whoa-woah-whoa-ed his way through the set. Old-school influences like the Rolling Stones and the Kinks were definitely present, as were the newer rock sounds of bands like the Strokes. A solid live performance and an impressive collection of original rock & roll made Luxury Sweets a standout band with plenty of potential, both locally and beyond.

The second band I want to mention is El Sonido. Combining the forces of three electric guitars plus a drummer, these guys certainly had no shortage of ax-power. What they lacked in bass they made up for in treble, blasting the audience with enough high-frequency distortion to kill a small mammal. Luckily, everybody survived the onslaught, as I myself escaped unscathed, retreating back to the quart of ice cream that awaited my return.

Questions? Comments? Think you rock? Email gwheeler@metcruz.com.