Rolling dough with Genghis Khan

There's something about pizza joints that makes the cheap snack shacks regular pit stops for rock types. Austin has its infamous death metal storefront on Sixth Avenue (at which you can inhale bubbling cheese and headbanging riffs all at once), Seattle had a beloved hardcore dive called 2nd Ave. Pizza (R.I.P.), and San Francisco has Arinell's, the Valencia Street hole in the wall delivering baked bready goodness to the masses.

"Arinell's is awesome. The owner [Ron Demirdjian] has seen every amazing band from the mid-'60s on," says Jesse Thompson of Hawkwind's local heir apparent, Genghis Khan. "His love of rock 'n' roll has always influenced who he hires, and that's why almost every employee since '75 has been in a gigging band. Where the normal job would fire you for taking two months off a year for touring, Ron understands and even loans us money when we get in trouble." Thompson would know: He's been saucing up rolled dough at the place for a couple of years now. "Ron has saved so many people's asses over the years the man is like a rock 'n' roll saint." So it's in this local band patron's honor that Thompson is throwing a two-day Pizza-Palooza. It all kicks off at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, April 14, when Apache, the Time Flys, Canadian Bacon and the Pineapple Pals (you'd know 'em if you saw 'em), and, of course, Genghis Khan take over the Elbow Room — along with a dozen or so free Arinell's pies. (The following night Trainwreck Riders lord over a punks 'n' pizzas lineup at Thee Parkside).

For a band that has released only a lone 7-inch (for the aptly named "God Damn") in its two years, Genghis Khan shows a fierce brute strength (available for your perusal on MySpace). Take "Golden Horde," a track that unfolds with stormy gales and the galloping and whinnying of horses before diving into a thorny briar patch of stoned guitar grooves. From there it hooks into electric blues and a thundering rhythmic stampede — harking back, at times, to the sorely missed Zen Guerrilla. It's epic hessian rock from a band named after "a ruthless, longhaired savage [who] crushed everything in his path, creating the largest empire in history," Thompson explains. "It was either Genghis Khan or Napoleon, and we went with the long hair." Other songs, like "Eternal Blue Sky," display King Kong beats falling with bludgeoning force and the wail of a freight train harmonica, while "Genghis Khan" takes you on a harrowing trip that uncoils past snaking saxophones, ricocheting sound effects, and black-lit melodies by the bongload. Genghis recently wrapped up recording its debut full-length and a split 7-inch with Annihilation Time, with plans to record in the Netherlands in the works.

In the end, though, this weekend still belongs to Arinell's. "It's like an homage to a really great man," Thompson says of the Pizza-Palooza. "If not for Ron, lots of bands, present and past, would not have been able to tour. [He] will even pay your rent for you while you're away. What job does that?"


Wolf Eyes fans can experience a virtual noise bashing by the Michigan sound bombers when the Yerba Buena screens Wolf Eyes August 17, 2002, a documentary by frequent Sonic Youth collaborator Chris Habib showing the boys breaking shit down in Chicago. Check it out on Thursday, April 13, at 7:30 and 9:15 p.m., when the short fittingly precedes a bloody Japanese horror flick called Haze.

Soothing show of the week: "Contemporary classical" acts rarely tour with electronic artists, but Clogs aren't your typical symphonic outfit. The band opens for the Books, and it crafts mostly instrumental, minimalist compositions merging into post-rock territory. Clogs songs move with the pace of a breaking heart, weaving melancholy with delicate layers of strings, horns, flutes, and guitars. Fans of Efterklang take note: This Australian/American act should make some stunning sounds live when it hits the Great American Music Hall on Monday, April 17, at 8 p.m.

 
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