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.