Heliocentric Freakshow Pathways

A flier for the Oh Messy Life radio program consisting of handwritten text on top of an old KZSU schedule showing Theresa the Freakboy's radio program.

Oh Messy Life – April 21, 2023 Show Notes

Today’s radio show is dedicated to the memory of former KZSU DJ Gilbert Giron, known on the airwaves as Theresa the Freakboy. All the music I played was inspired by the sounds of Gilbert’s radio program, The Freakshow.

My first memory of Gilbert is from just before I became a KZSU DJ. I had finished college in Ohio and moved in with my Grandma in Redwood City, who had a whole house to herself and always welcomed guests. I started working a random temp job in Foster City, taking Caltrain back and forth. One morning, on my way to the train station, I saw that someone had put up fliers on every single telephone pole all the way around Sequoia High School for a show in Palo Alto featuring a band called The Donnas.

Admiring the unknown promoters dedication, I decided to go to the show. It turned out to be in a community center auditorium, I think an indoor basketball court with a stage at one end? Most of the crowd seemed to be high school kids. Over to the side I spotted two older guys, one with shorter blond hair and another wearing a long coat with long black hair. I didn’t know who they were at the time, but that was going to change.

At the end of the show I took a flier from a high-school girl / KZSU DJ who was trying to organize a 924 Gilman Street style collective for the West Bay, which eventually led to me applying for a radio show at KZSU, but that’s another story for another time. Jumping ahead to the Summer of 1997, I started my first show at the station, Saturday nights at midnight.

Back then the station had weekly staff meetings and I soon met a whole cast of characters. Among them was a tall, soft spoken DJ with super long hair who filled the late night airwaves with an amazing mix of psyche, punk, and noise all jumbled together. If a song had a certain quirky attitude, distortion, or messed up vibe, Gilbert would work it into his radio show.

Back then, before the first dot com boom, the peninsula was a different place. It was possible for someone to make do working a record store or book store job, get an apartment with two other radio DJs, and spend their spare time going to shows and hanging out at the radio station, playing weird music all night until the sun came up.

Along with with fellow DJ and roommate The Big Chief, Gilbert used to record the weekly concert calendar, back when that meant reel-to-reel tape and cart machines. I have memories of the two of them spending hours in Studio B announcing upcoming shows and editing tapes. For extra flair they had a voice changing toy and would add a third “voice” to the concert calendar, “The Little Man.” On days where there weren’t any local concerts to announce they’d throw in a fictional show “On Thursday, Tony plays with himself” a running gag at the expense of their third roommate. (Rest In Peace Big Ant.)

Then times changed. The music industry changed with the rise of mp3s and digital downloads. The West Bay changed with wave after wave of tech company start ups gobbling up everything. And the radio station changed as DJs came and went. Eventually Gilbert was one of the DJs who left. And now comes the news that he has passed away. Rest in peace Gilbert, and thank you for all the amazing radio shows and good times.

Track 1: Sun Ra – Heliocentric

Starting of with a classic track from one of Gilbert’s favorite artists.

Track 2: Lee Perry – Megaton Dub

Adding a bit of space with the magic dub stylings of Lee ‘Scracth’ Perry.

Track 3: Spiritualized – Electricity

Then amping up for the blissed out rock sounds of Spiritualized.

Track 4: Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band – Electricity

Making things weirder with none other than Captain Beefheart himself, I always loved the intensity of this live version.

Track 5: Brentwoods – Everybody Buri Buri

One of the most distinctive sounding bands from that 90s garage rock revival, this one is stuck in my memory as definitive of that era down at KZSU.

Track 6: the Dukes of Hamburg – Que Sera

A Russel Quan band featuring another one of Gilbert’s KZSU DJ pals, Dr Sauce!

Track 7: Ragady Anne – Freakshow

Straight out of Palo Alto, from their first 7″ put out by KZSU DJ Johnny Mags.

Track 8: Monster Magnet – Snake Dance

Big Chief passed along a list of a few of Gilbert’s bands and this was one I managed to work into the show.

Track 9: Unsane – Slag

Another recommendation from Big Chief.

Track 10: Spazz – Loach

It’s Spazz. Nuff said!

Track 11: High Rise – Wipe Out

So many noisy Japanese psyche rock bands to try and choose from, I ended up going with High Rise.

Track 12: Butthole Surfers – Dust Devil

Hard to beat the Butthole Surfers for all around messed up sounding vibes.

Track 13: Dopestyle 1231 – BuildDestroy

Something fun and noisy from another KZSU contemporary of Gilbert’s, MC Dopestyle.

Trak 14: Shizuo – Sweat

I was looking for a track to continue the energy of the Dopestyle cut and this came to mind.

Track 15: Sun Ra – Where Pathways Meet

A little more Sun Ra for good measure.

Track 16: Spacemen 3 – Honey

And closing things out with the Spacemen 3.

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