Dwarves, Electric Frankenstein Share Bill With Grapplers

Punk bands take stage as part of Incredibly Strange Wrestling concert series.

SAN FRANCISCO — The peace-and-love legend of the Fillmore Auditorium took a good-natured beating Friday night as destructo-punk stalwarts the Dwarves, Electric Frankenstein and 440 Six-Pack played punishing sets between rounds of even more punishing Mexican-style wrestling.

The Incredibly Strange Wrestling concert series, which began in 1995, combines bone-jarring rock with rollicking, no-holds-barred wrestling modeled after the theatrical, masked, freestyle wrestling — lucha libre — popular in Mexico.

"It's almost like a sports event where jocks aren't allowed," Dwarves bassist Chip Fracture said.

Male and female wrestlers with names such as Damage Inc. (a tag team that entered the ring to the sound of Metallica's "Damage Inc." and proceeded to spoof greedy developers) and El Macho Sasquatcho (in a Bigfoot outfit) squared off against each other in bouts combining trash-culture schtick with over-the-top satire.

Audience members heckled wrestlers, bands and announcers, unleashing a constant barrage of corn tortillas (which fly better than flour tortillas) onto the stage and into the ring. In a rare break with tradition, the Fillmore staff did not offer its customary bucket of apples to fans at the front door.

440 Six-Pack opened the boozy brawl, appropriately enough, with "One More Round." By the time they launched into their punky, MC5-style cover of the standard "Ramblin' Rose," the audience was ready to rumble.

With a cry of "Are you ready for bloodshed?," master of ceremonies Count Dante initiated a series of chaotic matches between the likes of El Gourmexico, Chupa Suave, the Hair-Raiser and the Inbred Abomination, whose corner included his toothless, frying-pan-wielding cousin/wife/manager.

New York punk-rockers Electric Frankenstein, whose most recent album is How to Make a Monster (1999), tore through a frenetic set that included "Speed Girl" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Up From the Streets." Asked to recall the craziest thing he saw from the stage, Electric Frankenstein bassist Dan Canzonieri seemed hard pressed to choose: "Um, there was a girl in front who pulled down her tube top; that was cool."

Ex–Dead Kennedys leader Jello Biafra, wearing a zebra-striped fez, joined the ring announcers to help call the second set of wrestling matches. As the sleeper holds and double-clothesline takedowns continued, the booming sound of bodies hitting canvas was picked up by microphones and amplified over the public-address system.

Attendees Ashley Scott Sinclair and Veronica Ramirez of Oakland, both 21, said they were somewhat disappointed. They said they wanted to see midgets wrestling, which they didn't, and naked Dwarves, which they did.

Crude punk-rockers the Dwarves — who recently completed an album, Come Clean, for Epitaph Records (due in early 2000) — took the stage at 12:50 a.m. By 1 a.m., they had blasted through six songs. Minutes later, singer Blag Dahlia's shirt had been torn off in a stagedive, and guitarist He Who Cannot Be Named had removed his jockstrap — his only covering besides a wrestling mask.

Soon, He Who Cannot Be Named's guitar was rendered useless, though he continued to dance naked onstage. At the 26-minute mark, Dahlia kicked over the drum set, and it was all over.

Organizers plan to release a compilation CD featuring 20 bands that have played Incredibly Strange Wrestling shows over the past four years. Among the artists who have contributed tracks to Solo Lucha Salva are the Supersuckers, the Toilet Boys and all three bands on Friday's bill, according to Audra Angeli-Morse of Dino & Luigi Productions, organizers of the show.

ISW also plans to launch a website (isw-wrestling.com) in late September.