SAN JOSE, Calif. -- I was a man on a mission.
In the weeks before the Sno-Core Tour pulled into San Jose, no one at
the SonicNet editorial office showed much concern for what my opinion would be
of the performances of tour acts the Aquabats, the Long Beach Dub
All-Stars, Blink 182 and Primus.
There was only one question they wanted answered: Where's the snow?
Fair enough, I thought. What exactly is the Sno-Core tour?
And why is any concert remotely associated with snow stopping in San Jose,
a city where this winter has thus far been characterized by the gray
and brutal rain of the almighty El Nino storm system?
(On that note, let me state here that the hazardous road conditions kept
from speeding to the concert to catch the Aquabats, who came on promptly
at 7 p.m. Since when do rock concerts start on time? I must have missed
a memo or something.)
Unfortunately, I had no obvious answers to these questions, and I was
unable to pry any answers from the concert-goers at the tour's stop
Tuesday night at the
San Jose State Events Center. There were snow- and snow-sports-related
promotional materials scattered about the arena, but no sign of snow.
When asked exactly what Sno-Core meant to her, 16-year-old Blink 182 fan
Jennifer Wilson was about as stumped as I was. "I think maybe it is
supposed to be about skate bands and music the extreme-sports guys are
into," she said between sets for the Aquabats and the Long Beach Dub
All-Stars. Wilson, who indicated that she herself is not an
"extreme-sports guy," expressed ambivalence about a theme being connected
to the assembled acts. "I'm not worried about snowboarding," she said. "I
just want to see Blink 182."
She was far from alone. The pop-punk of Blink 182 set the mosh pit in
front of the stage alive with flailing limbs and bobbing heads galore,
stopping to rest only when guitarist Tom Delonge and/or bassist Mark
would tell the adoring masses about the size of each other's testicles,
fact that their soundman was having sex just five minutes before their set
or that their goal in life is to look good when they're wet. The
strongest crowd reaction, naturally, was for
(RealAudio excerpt), the hit off their latest, Dude Ranch. But
the pure energy devoted to such songs as "Pathetic," "Dick Lips" and
"Apple Shampoo" would certainly have melted any snow that managed to find its way into the arena.
For me, the jaded rock-journalist with only a cursory knowledge of
Blink 182's songs, their set seemed about 20 minutes too long. And I'd suggest they drop the toilet humor. But what do I know? When Delonge asked the crowd, "Who
likes to lick buttholes?" the last thing I would have expected the teen
girls standing next to me to do was scream like they were watching the
Beatles on the "Ed Sullivan Show" and shout out, "Ohmigod! Tom you are so
I suppose now, as always, what the men don't know, the little grrrls
I wonder, though, if my gauge of their energy level was influenced by the
energy level of the band that preceded them, the Long Beach Dub All-Stars,
a.k.a. the artists formerly known as Sublime. The Dub All-Stars, who
the pop-ska of Sublime and instead concentrated more on a dub-heavy reggae
sound, took a lot of time talking amongst themselves between songs and at
times seemed dispassionate about their work. The moments when they were
tightest, such as during their cover of Operation Ivy's "Take Warning,"
were fantastic. When things got sloppy, though, they got really
sloppy. For example, I have no way to disprove that Miguel Happoldt's
guitar was run over by the tour bus, as he announced from the stage, but I
can testify that it certainly sounded like it at times.
Still, things weren't all bad. If the Long Beach Dub All-Stars were too
slow and Blink 182 were too long, then Primus were just right. Playing in
what essentially was their backyard, the funked-up prog-jam trio were
clearly the crowd favorites. The band was as tight as it has ever been,
quickly changing pace and sound with razor-sharp precision on songs such
as "Groundhog's Day," "Tommy the Cat" and "My Name Is Mud," which
bassist/frontman Les Claypool dedicated to a friend of his who he said
thinks of himself as an angel as a result of hitting his head.
Claypool thwacked the bass like nobody's business, guitarist Larry
LaLonde once again proved himself to be one of the most underrated
the business and drummer Brian "Brain" Mantia kept the psycho-funk
beat steady and constant. DJ Disk joined Primus for a few songs, adding
a few choice scratches to their cover of Stanley Clarke's "Silly Putty"
performing the theme to the television game show "Jeopardy!"
All in all, 21-year-old San Jose State student Josh Josten probably summed
it up best. "It's a shame about the bands that Primus makes you sit
to see their show," Josten said at the conclusion of Blink 182's set.
As for the snow -- damned if I could find it.
[Fri., Feb. 13, 1998, 9 a.m. PST]