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December 17 - 24, 1999

[Music Reviews]

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Hidden talent

You're right to be afraid of Paco

by Laura Kiritsy

The cloak of anonymity can propel the most ordinary schmuck to do the most extraordinary things. The Unkown Comic, Deep Throat, the dude wearing the lampshade at the office Christmas party . . . you get the picture. Like their mysterious predecessors, the boys from Paco, safely hidden behind masks and fictitious identities, are fearlessly wreaking havoc with a live show that incorporates interpretive dance, "pee-pee" grabbing, and a smattering of un-PC banter that should make those fresh kids from South Park turn a deep shade of crimson.

"He says a lot of bad words," says saxophonist Farmer McGinty, referring to bandmate Disko Kanupikas whose Tiki-god headpiece is reminiscent of the cursed idol that almost killed Greg in the famous two-part Hawaii Brady Bunch episode. "He makes everyone uncomfortable" accuses Dalmatian-headed drummer Mr. Nosehair.

The band say their masquerade is simply for fun, although bass player CapN Assknuckle intimates that the outspoken Kanupikas has a bit more to hide under his Tiki-god façade. "He looks like Vincent Price underneath, too, which is a little weird."

Paco's expertly and frenetically executed instrumental masterpieces (they didn't bother replacing vocalist Sinead after she packed it in, in 1997, after four gigs) is the soundtrack for their on-stage shenanigans. But don't be fooled (or frightened), these dudes are serious about the way-out sounds they make. Paco play a set as tight as the control-top panty hose stretched over Farmer McGinty's head. It's no easy feat, yet, note for note, Mr. Nosehair keeps up with Kanupikas's furious key-pecking, creating a steady sound of near insanity. Meanwhile, CapN Assknuckle and Farmer McGinty cut through the dueling with just enough twangin' and tootin' to keep things civil. The result is a little bit polka, a little bit rock and roll, a tad bit pyschedelic, and, okay, a little obnoxious. But believe it or not, it's very melodic. And it's fast and wacky enough to make your ass shimmy like Ricky Martin's or, at the very least, wobble like Granny's when she's doing the Beer Barrel Polka.

Paco materialized in 1997 as a side dish for keyboardist Disko Kanupikas, who in those days was someone else completely and a full-time member of local rap-core heroes Chillum. But he left Chillum for Paco because "it was more fun," and he took with him the talented Mr. Nosehair. In one of their first incarnations, Paco contributed the hard-hitting "Paraplegic Cat" to the East Coast Audio comp CD, Some Music by Us . . . For You. After several costume and personnel changes (including the sad departure of their dancer, Mr. Gunta), they rounded out the permanent roster with two Special 79 members, reincarnated as bassist and apparent WWF reject CapN Assknuckle and the bare-footed Farmer McGinty. Farmer McGinty waxes philosophic on the creative reasons for hopping on the Paco bandwagon after seeing several of their gigs: "I was like, `man, I friggin' hate these guys. I have to ruin their band even more by being in it.'"

In preparation for their upcoming takeover at the Funny Bones Cafe, where they appear this Friday, a recent rehearsal finds Paco effortlessly running through a handful of tunes like "Verboten" and "Smooping Around," which can be found on the recently released Cuts from the Nasal Deli, recorded live at the Lucky Dog Music Hall in September. The band proudly announce that they have already sold 10 copies of the cassette.

Kanupikas masterminds much of Paco's concoctions by "messing around" on his keyboard; the band then flesh out their parts collaboratively. He irreverently says his songs "are about nothing in particular," though he later reveals his muse. "I like Debbie Gibson . . . Electric Youth," he explains, "she's the most influential part of the band, like 99.72 percent." Live performances find Kanupikas dedicating Paco tunes to the mundane activities of daily life, such as " shitting in a hot-dog bun, puttin' ketchup on it, and eating it . . . stuff of that nature."

With that said, it's surprising and somewhat disappointing when Paco confess they don't have a large following here, despite semi-regular gigs at the Lucky Dog and at the Above Club. "We usually play in front of four people, and those four people like us," says CapN Assknuckle. "They don't admit it though." He attributes their reportedly non-existent following in town to the fact that the finicky local crowds are into "tough-guy music" and would rather listen to Godsmack, 24-7. Luckily for Paco (as well as the rest of us), Worcester is hardly the hub of the rock-and-roll universe, and larger audiences can be found at Norton's Wheaton College and at a biker bar in a bad part of Waterbury, Connecticut. "Bikers love us," boasts Nosehair.

"Yes, we're good with Hell's Angels," concurs Kanupikas. What's good for the Angels, should certainly be good enough for you, so get your butt out to a Paco show, if for nothing else than to buy one of their hip-looking T-shirts. And with a crowd of just four, there's likely a short wait for the bathroom.

Paco appear at Funny Bones Cafe on December 17. Call 949-1587.

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