With the recent upswing of interest in surf music has come a legion of new surf bands--and with that multiplicity has come a wave of gimmicks meant to distinguish one surf band from the next. Many are visual rather than musical: Los Straitjackets wear Mexican wrestling masks; the Surfaholics donned tiki masks for the cover of their Tiki-a-Go-Go, and Man or Astroman? maintain that they're marooned extraterrestrials. But the Volcanos stand out as much for what they leave out as what they put in. They don't indulge in costumed theatrics or pump up their music with metallic or new-wave trappings. Instead the Detroit-based combo, whose members have previously played in the Zombie Surfers and the 3-D Invisibles, boil surf music down to its bones. They cook up instantly memorable tunes using only the ingredients found in the original recipe: exhilarating melodies that evoke wave riding and beach parties, driving, splashy drums, and bold, deliciously trebly guitars. They may pay unabashed homage to the masters--"Half Moon Bay" includes the signature riff from the Surfaris' "Wipe Out"--but the energy and enthusiasm of their performances wipe out any traces of revivalist conservatism. The Volcanos also recognize the virtue of brevity; none of the 12 tunes on their album Surf Quake (Estrus) lasts much longer than two minutes, ensuring that the band never wears out its welcome. They open for label mates the Crown Royals (see John Corbett's Critic's Choice). Friday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. BILL MEYER
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.