Straight-ahead Ramonesy rockin' punk will never go out of style, but it's always a pleasure to see a band getting the idea exactly right, as with San Francisco's Groovie Ghoulies. The Ghoulies know that it's not enough to be influenced just by the late New York foursome's fast songs and simple guitar riffs; to make the music mean anything, you have to absorb all the things that made the Ramones sound what it was -- the AM radio girl-group grandeur; the Beach Boys' youthful joy, B-movie cartoon spookiness and irreverent celebration of pop culture -- and create something to call your own. For the Groovie Ghoulies (Kepi on vocals, Roach on guitar, B-Face on bass, Amy on drums), this means embracing the tongue-in-cheek, scary/silly imagery their name implies and writing catchy songs punctuated with handclaps and Chuck Berry-ish pop hooks, then filtering it all through a sunny California disposition to end up not so much sounding like the Ramones as evoking the same spirit, a hard trick to pull off. With no new record to promote (their most recent studio album being 1999's Fun in the Dark, on Lookout Records), the Groovie Ghoulies are touring for the sheer love of playing punk rock for the kids -- or maybe, like the Ramones, they just don't know how to do anything else.Ramones-lovin' De Soto-ites the Ded Bugs, this year's Slammy winners in the Best Punk Band category, open the show.
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