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To Hell and Back 

There's no way to show all the deviltry from this year's SF Weekly Music Awards gala. But here's a hot peek.

Wednesday, Oct 22 2003
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As with the previously touted "scene," I am exasperated and beleaguered by the mention of "community." The word as a title does not imply a group with common interests or origins living in one place and considered as a whole; it becomes, instead, something slightly unctuous and terribly precious. Yet one struggles to find a more appropriate term for the profusion of musicians, poets, and artists residing on the flanks of our little bay: the copse, the corps, the bevy, the tribe, the troupe, the "rout, ruck, and rabblement," the hoi polloi, the fellowship, the coterie, the rank and file, profanum vulgus, the clan, the moiety, the cabal, the confrerie, the axis, the foundation, the cadre, the camarilla, the pudding? There was definitely some pudding at the SF Weekly Music Awards 2003 (and after seeing it smeared and slurped that way, I will never again consider it a comestible) -- more than 300 musicians, 75 intentional performers, and a discordant, wavering multitude of writers, club bookers, radio DJs, freaks, fools, and magi. Chaos, idiocy, and delight did ensue. Here is but a sample:

1) Given that our MC was tied up (literally, we think) on the eve of the SF Weekly Music Awards nominees showcase and barbecue, Shadow Circus Creature Theatre hosts the event with a lifelike Chicken John effigy that tells bad jokes and strips to a Devo song, revealing a nest of chest hair and a large rubber cock, er, chicken stashed between its legs.

2) Not to be outdone by a puppet, Tom Jonesing frontman Steffanos X steals the day and all the young girls' hearts (and some lucky lady's underwear) by removing his shirt and pelvicly thrusting through "Kiss."

3) At the door of the SF Weekly Music Awards ceremony, the mood is set by the Holy Trinity of the Dogminican Order, three enormous, smirking Doggie Diner dog heads, and a little sign that reads: "Abandon hope all ye who enter here."

4) Inside, Rasputini the Mad Midget runs through the audience, grabbing ass and kicking people in the shins, while the Porn Clown Posse is reprimanded by club security for doing exactly what Porn Clowns are meant to do (imagine the scent of cheap cigars, good greasepaint, and dark crevices). Attendees bribe SF Weekly staff for a moment inside the shadow box where Black & Blue Burlesque performs its passion play, The Seven Deadly Sins. In the balcony, men with live boa constrictors and giant lizards offer guests long sticks with hunks of raw meat, and Ggreg Taylor, as a living, breathing candle, drips and flickers in the halls.

5) Death hovers at Chicken John's elbow.

6) Faun Fables, dressed as Edwardian milkmaids, teach the crowd a very special dance during their set, then join the audience for the heavy metal onslaught of Hammers of Misfortune. The sight of the Faun Fables' bonnets bobbing furiously in front of the Marshall stacks causes some confusion and unrest among those in the audience on LSD.

7) The crowd joins Mark Growden in a rousing chorus of "The Nasty," singing, "I miss fucking you senseless while you fuck me blue," while Death, clearly smitten, proclaims his undying love and bends over a barstool.

8) Ariela Morgenstern, accompanied by the Wages of Sin, receives a standing ovation (the first in SF Weekly Music Awards history) for her spine-tingling rendition of George Bizet's "Habanera" from Carmen.

9) Two of the awards -- plaster gargoyles painstakingly engraved by mine own hand just a few hours before the show -- are stolen by members of the audience. One is returned, an unexpected display of conscience from the denizens of hell.

10) It doesn't matter. Jesse Eva, the lead singer of the Vanishing, smashes her award onstage, tearing a hole in the trapeze mat and sending shards skittering into the audience. Her award, she points out, is for the "Lifestyle" category.

11) Fleshies' Johnny No Moniker accepts his gargoyle wearing a homemade "Corporate Weeklies Still Suck!" T-shirt, but his message is lost in the melee as one of his bandmates attempts to climb the trapeze, only to be tackled and thrown into the drum kit by our host, Chicken John. We're not quite sure whose act is the more punk rock.

12) Despite bloodshed and broken gargoyles, the barefoot Starlings pick their way across the stage and climb to their trapeze, where, for six breathless moments, they hold the room utterly spellbound.

13) And a slew of wonderful bands go home as winners with public accolades:

Americana

Jolie Holland

DJ/Selector/Turntablist

DJ Mark Farina

Electronic/Electro

Gravy Train!!!!

Hard Rock/Metal

Ludicra

Hip Hop/Rap

Hieroglyphics

Jazz

Dave Ellis

Latin/International

O-Maya

Lifestyle Music

The Vanishing

New Genre/Beyond

Kitten on the Keys

Pop

Loquat

Punk

Fleshies

Rock/Indie Rock

Phantom Limbs

Soul/Funk/R&B

Goapele

About The Author

Silke Tudor

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Slideshows

  • Jack White at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
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