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POP CAPSULES

Surfers: Over the Top

November 10, 1987|RICHARD CROMELIN

When members of a rock band burn and bash a bass and guitar on stage, you figure they're a little on the wild side. When they do it during the first song , they've got to be over the top--and pretty confident about what they've got in store.

The B. H. Surfers were all of that Saturday at the Variety Arts Center, where the masters of mayhem, in the tradition of demented loner visionaries like fellow Texan Roky Erickson and armed with some of the art-shock tactics of culture-subversives like Throbbing Gristle, came on like some degenerate drive-in death cult.

Operating like phantoms in a strobe-lit hallucination-land before films of pretty fish and graphic surgery (you were expecting the Muppets?), the band delivered a sonic assault of sometimes astonishing power. They're also funny, in a backwoods sort of way, but this is no lark. Singer Gibby Haynes and company (including a body-painted female dancer) are like a crew of wildcat drillers tapping into forbidden zones of the subconscious, and what spewed out Saturday inspired an air of barely controlled chaos among the wildly responsive crowd.

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