Eleven, the new incarnation of Radio Room, is set to open Friday and Saturday as a venue for North Park Music Thing. Taking its name from This is Spinal Tap, the rock 'n' roll-themed bar has undergone a radical redesign during the past month, says owner Scot Blair. Among the changes, there's a new bar top, a new music room and an improved sound system. “It looks nothing like it did before,” Blair says. “It's fuckin' bitchin'.” The bar's official opening celebration will take place Aug. 26 through 29 and feature performances by Behind the Wagon, The Silent Comedy, The Donkeys and The Downs Family, among others.
Seth Combs, editor of Pacific San Diego magazine and former CityBeat arts editor, agreed last week to get his hair cut like teen pop sensation Justin Bieber if freelance writer and book editor Bonnie Vandewater raises $300 for the San Diego Humane Society. He further agreed to cut off his famous beard if she manages to raise $700. As of this week, Vandewater has received pledges for more than $500, she says, but she needs cash or checks in hand by early next month for the cut to happen. Combs, who isn't a Bieber fan but has an “unhealthy obsession” with him, says he isn't disturbed or excited at the thought of getting “The Bieb” and losing his beard. “Unless my dad's genes kick in any day and I start getting a receding hair line,” he adds, “which would make the Bieber-do look even more ridiculous.”
The Enrique Experience
Imperial Beach's 30th annual U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition (aka the local Sheriff Department's make-your-yearly-DUI-quota day) came and went, drawing hundreds of thousands of revelers to its streets. I.B. is inviting, and, with a charm all its own, the sleepy town— best described as P.B.'s serial-killer brother—is host to several hole-inthe-walls, but none as shady as “The most southwesterly bar” in the continental United States—Ye Olde Plank Inn (24 Palm Ave.)
A life-size sculpture of Captain Morgan welcomes you. Inside, the yo-ho, yo-ho theme continues with buoys aplenty, netting covering the establishment's dropped ceiling and portholes that serve as the windows. An ideal setting for a Gilligan's Island reunion show, the flotsamand-jetsam décor also features endless naval commendations, a wooden toilet seat and an overall scheme that brings to mind a salty, peglegged designer saying: “Let's make it classy and go for a Popeye's spit bucket feel.”
Leave your kitschy expectations at home, however. This place is less Jack Sparrow and more rough-andtumble Somali on the Pirate Meter.
Undoubtedly, the most priceless booty here is the clientele, which, on Sunday night, included a wasted Woo-hoo!-yelling girl asking an elderly man if she could to do a body shot off him, a white-trash dude rocking a kilt and a gentleman parked at the horseshoe-shaped bar with—I shit you not—a parrot on his shoulder.
Naturally, I gravitated toward the latter.
“Her name is Daisy,” said the master of the double yellow-headed Amazon parrot. “She's usually very sweet, just not tonight,” he continued as the bird lost it and started squawking like it was on fire.
Later, engaged in some heavy petting, the man told me that Daisy was cranky because she'd had a “rough couple of nights” and had been napping until moments earlier, when the loud jukebox woke her up. “She simply hates reggaeton,” he added, as the Pitbull jams got increasingly louder.
Giddy and in hog heaven, taking in all the sights proved to be overwhelming, and I felt trapped inside the hypnotic pinwheel of a nautical Twilight Zone. There was the backwoods Scotsman, the reverse Coyote Ugly feel of the allmale tank-top-wearing staff and, of course, Daisy, who, by then, had started getting way too friendly with a stuffed blowfish hanging from the palapa-topped bar.
Feeling a need to take a Dramamine, I jumped ship and called it a night.
View from a Stool
Last Friday, San Diego's Little White Teeth headed to Tijuana to play a show at a bar off Sixth Street called El Burro Rayado (Spanish for The Striped Donkey). Sixth Street in downtown Tijuana, by the way, has completely taken off in the last few years—flashy bars, a hip new diner, live-music venues and expensive clubs now line the street.
El Burro Rayado is a big enough venue to host live bands, but the ceilings are low, which means the sound reverberates like crazy. And when you add the loud DJ music spilling in from the patio outside to the fact that the sound setup seems to be missing a few necessary speakers and/or any sign of an attentive sound engineer, you have a possible audio disaster.
The whole thing was a bit of an affront to my ear-holes at first, but that's where the skill of Little White Teeth kicked in. Conversations could be heard over vocalist / bassist's Phil Beaumont's voice, but, if you listened hard enough and stood at the front of the room, you could at least catch the melody, if not the words. And what pretty, dark melodies they are—pulling at your heartstrings while the rhythm forces your feet to haphazardly twitch to the beat.
Beaumont cut through all the bullshit and got the most out of his microphone, and the rest of the band followed his lead. Drummer Yuko Sugiyama was right in sync, guitarist Dmitri Dziensuwki's playing was precise and the band's newest member, violinist / keyboardist Matt Resovich's contributions were, for whatever reason, the easiest to hear and, therefore, the most ear-catching. At one point during the show, someone from the audience walked up and tried turning one of the bigger speakers to help the sound, but it did little good.
Still, by the end of the set, at least half of the annoying conversations had quieted, and the row of those who made the decision to stand closer to the band was doubled—a testament to the increasing scuttlebutt about Little White Teeth being a band worth following, even if you're following them to a soundchallenged venue in Tijuana.
A new feature in which we recommend a good song by a local band.
“Pretenders” by local new-wave-inspired band Lesands should be on everyone's #nowplaying Tweet update at least once this week. Singer Austin Taylor Tirado,who looks—and croons—just a little like a young Morrissey, has created a layered electro-pop tune that reminds us of a more-upbeat Joy Division. We could do without the sunglasses, bravado and spastic dancing at the lives shows, though.