Rocket from the Crypt in SF

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The kids seem to be the ones who are all right. Well, the kids and the jocks. I hate those Fred Durst fratboys and their 'let's mosh when the first chord strikes' attitude, but when it comes to hearing rock 'n' roll, I'll take them and all the crazy punk kids punching each other in the head over scowling been-there-done-that adults sipping their drinks like they're waiting in line at the fucking DMV. When there's a rock show, motherfuckers, let's act like it and have some fun.

Wednesday night's lineup was definitely a rock show?from the perspective of the bands, at least. The Explosion took the stage first, looking barely legal and singing "there's no revolution anymore." Their old-school anthems made me miss the Dead Boys and pray that the Black Halos would come back through town. This was good-time singalong punk rock with two guitarists and a bassist running around the stage like windup toys on speed. The bleached-blond singer brought out the megaphone between songs, saying he loved "screaming broads" and asking if the crowd was awake, a question anyone looking at the glassy-eyed zombies had to wonder. Bands like the Explosion need to play in small, dank rock clubs where drunks can throw beer at them in appreciation for keeping the three-chord movement alive and well.

Next up was the (International) Noise Conspiracy, Sweden's little bottle rockets with a political charge. They hung a huge banner that read "Are We Content to Be Slaves?"?a sign that they'd be talking about a completely different kind of revolution. INC took the stage in matching white hoodies and played their poppy garage rock in adrenaline bursts, with frontman Dennis Lyxzen screaming like Roger Daltrey in "Baba O'Riley." Between songs Lyxzen gave props to the FTAA protesters in Quebec, talked about smashing up capitalist alienation and did a couple cartwheels. The band's energy was so high it drove him to climb into the balcony and address the crowd close to the ceiling, causing some parts of the audience to actually move their heads for the first time.

By the end of the INC set the crowd was either finally drunk or just really excited to see Rocket from the Crypt, because there was real movement at the Great American Music Hall. When RFTC strode onstage, it was clear they were there to put on a show. They had huge twin cardboard cobras, a big red and black RFTC banner, matching cobra shirts and a horn section ready to go. The small fleet of entertainers played a great set of hell-raising rock 'n' roll. Mosh pits erupted like brush fires around the crowd as scrawny punks hugged, tugged and pushed one another in excitement. From the balcony, thick-necked fans pumped the air and practically fell over the edge trying to sing along.

Frontman John "Speedo" Reis talked to the crowd like a true Southerner-via-San-Diego host, spreading the accent on thick and addressing us as "Ladies and Gentlemen" as he preached about the surrendering to the "big sound of Rocket from the Crypt." It wouldn't be a true cabaret without girls, though, and Speedo called up two enthusiastic ladies from the crowd to teach us how to do "the jerk"?a move that, from what I could tell, consisted of throwing their hands repeatedly over their heads.

We all could've left then and had our $13.50 worth, but Speedo called local rock evangelist Marcus Durant of Zen Guerrilla onstage for the encore set. Durant had been chatting with Jello Biafra earlier in the show, but now he stood beaming at the crowd, mumbling something about "that's what I'm saying" and slinging a guitar around his neck. Speedo introduced Durant only as "Wavy Gravy" before the band launched into one of their final songs. Durant's guitar turned out to be just an accessory, as he didn't play a single chord, but instead shook a tambourine. Then it was "Thank you, thank you, thank you" from Durant as RFTC played a couple more songs and released the riled-up sleepwalkers into the night.

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