Wednesday, Jul 17 2013 05:52 PM

MATT MUNOZ: This 'Machine' fueled by hope

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    By Photo by Miguel Angel Gonzalez

    Bakersfield band Silent Pacific celebrate the release of their new EP at The Gate on Saturday.

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    By Photo by Myriam Santos

    Australian alt-rock trio Sick Puppies appear Sunday at B Ryder's.

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By MATT MUNOZ, Californian columnist mmunoz@bakersfield.com

The members of Silent Pacific are eager to make your spiritual acquaintance.

The band offers messages of hope presented with copious amounts of youthful energy and edge, meaning local fans will be hard-pressed to find a more jubilant show than the group's CD release party at the Gate on Saturday.

"We want to bring a very simple, bold statement of God's love to the forefront of the music scene in Bakersfield," said Gabriel Zuniga, 22, the band's lead guitarist and vocalist. "And, secondly, we want to revamp people's understanding of what a real rock show is."

Silent Pacific is part of a revival of the local alternative Christian scene, which is seeing the emergence of young bands releasing music that could be played alongside any secular rock format. The band's debut five-song EP, "Fuel for the Human Machine," is an impressive collection of original post-hardcore riffs and catchy melodies tightly executed by bassist Darin Chavez, guitarist Saul Navarro and drummer Richard Raygoza.

"Each of our songs comes from a different source," said Zuniga. "When I first started writing music, I had nothing personal or interesting. I literally had to stir up some dramatic stuff in my life to have things to talk about. I want to convey the gospel of Jesus Christ in a raw, practical, and realistic way instead of the cookie cutter way most Christian bands try to sugarcoat their songs."

Like most young bands, the members of Silent Pacific intricately weave into the music their personal lives at home, in the garage and the studio.

"We all have busy schedules," said Raygoza, 22. "We are all employed students trying to navigate the 'system' so we all practice as much as we can. Our set practice days are every Saturday and Sunday in the mornings. However, we do practice during the week if we can."

With more rehearsals than live shows under their belt, the guys plan to showcase all their current material along with some older songs.

"In the beginning, there was a lot that we wanted to do but we had to be mindful of the time set," said Chavez. "We had to condense a lot of our stuff because we usually have a small amount of time. Now we have enough music to play for the people."

Following Saturday's show, the band plans to continue adding more gigs and building a larger fan base through their message of positivity. As the primary songwriter, Zuniga said the band is sincere about its message of hope for believers and non-believers.

"So much confusion and economical turmoil has caused everybody to forget about what really fuels their spirit, rather than their body and mind and wallet. We want the music to be loud and chaotic and unrelenting. The first four songs are lyrically telling a story of desperation and the subconscious search for God that I believe we sometimes feel compelled to do. The final lyrics are kind of an answer to everything. 'If lawyers lie and doctors die, and judges sin behind closed doors, and sexiness is so abstract that beauty's almost lost -- if Jesus died to save mankind, and politics and youth collide, and you're observing from afar, Lord, help us fix the world.'"

"Fuel for the Human Machine" will be available for sale at the show, as well as all regular digital download sites including iTunes.

Also appearing are Burn the Ships, Arizonity, and Chunrun. Saturday's showtime is 7 p.m. Admission is $5 in advance; $7 at door. All ages. The Gate is at 2010 O St. Visit facebook.com/silentpacific.

Sick Puppies at B Ryder's

Not that they're suffering from a disappointing musical career, but Aussie rock trio Sick Puppies can always use a hug.

After the release of the band's 2007 single "All the Same," which was used as the soundtrack for a touching tribute for a friend, the video became a viral sensation, helping to launch the Puppies' careers into high gear.

The sensation continues for the members of Sick Puppies: Emma Anzai, bass; Shimon "Shim" Moore, guitar; and Mark Goodwin, drums. Bakersfield will get a glimpse of the magic Sunday at B Ryder's.

"Firstly, it was a complete accident," said Anzai, 32, during an interview. "Shim made 'Free Hugs' as a 'feel better' video for his friend, who had recently lost his grandmother. After it got put on YouTube, it got a life of its own, skyrocketing beyond our control. It's been a few years now and we still see people all over the world holding 'Free Hugs' signs."

Anzai said the band's latest release, "Connect," was built with help from their fans.

"The one thing we like to do before we start the process of a new album is ask our close fans what they want more of and less of. We have a group of people called the Sick Puppies world crew who have been fans from the beginning, and the world crew continues to grow as we do. We look to them when we write and record, as sometimes being in this band bubble can be disorienting, and they bring us back to equilibrium."

Critics are split on the group's latest direction, pointing out the band may be trying to take themselves too seriously after coming off the joyful hype of "Free Hugs."

"In a nutshell, I'd say that it's a complete mixture of our albums 'Dressed Up As Life,' 'Tri-Polar' and 'Polar Opposite,'" Anzai said. "It's a snapshot in time, as albums always are, and this one is a snapshot of our time when we wrote it. It's more musical and we explored and experimented with our sound just enough to make it a little different, but not too much as to make it 'not us.'"

Musical "hugs" from the stage will be plentiful in Bakersfield, said Anzai, adding that hand sanitizer is optional.

"We hope that people get to forget all their problems for an hour and to feel something, to purge something and hopefully leave with a good feeling when they go home."

Sunday's showtime is 8 p.m. $22. All ages. B Ryder's is at 7401 White Lane. 397-7304 or numbskullshows.com.

Matt's picks

Viva Bakersfield at Narducci's Cafe, 622 E. 21st St., Saturday, 7 p.m., $8, 324-2961.

It's an extravabandza in Old Town featuring the Lovely Bad Things, Kitten Forever, Wyatt Blair, and Love Lush. This is the first of a proposed series in association with the Pomona-based Viva independent music festival. From the tragically hip to the chaotic and beyond, each act is as uniquely eclectic as it gets.

Tijuana Panthers and more at Sandrini's, 1918 Eye St., Monday, 9 p.m., free, 322-8900. I caught Long Beach post-punk trio Tijuana Panthers open for Dead Kennedy's vocalist Jello Biafra and Reverend Horton Heat in Anaheim some months back and they threw me for a loop with their cool blend of garage and surf-tastic guitar style. Also on the bill are GRMLN, The Waywards, and Crooked Folk. Highly recommended.

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