Keep on keepin' on
When Marc Shannon leased the old brick building at 3925 Ohio St. in North Park, his dream was to open an all-ages venue run by musicians, for musicians.
He had no idea how lofty a goal it'd turn out to be.
As soon as he opened The Avalon's doors last July, Shannon ran into problems. Two concerts in, the San Diego Police Department's vice squad raided the space. Shannon wasn't cited for anything, but after the incident, he says it was nearly impossible to get the city to approve the special-events permits he needed.
Most venues don't need special permits every time they throw a show, but what Shannon didn't know when he signed the yearlong lease—all bright-eyed and excited about what The Avalon could become for North Park, the neighborhood where the 51-year-old grew up and loves with all his heart—was that the building is zoned for mercantile, with a capacity of just 50. Pulling a special permit every time he wanted to increase the capacity became a hassle, and, as it turns out, it takes more than 50 kids to turn a profit at a liquor-free venue.
But rather than close the doors, Shannon reconfigured his dream. He currently rents out the space when he can, and, in the meantime, hosts smaller cultural events and musical showcases: Every Thursday is Grindhouse Movies, a night featuring flicks that fall in the public domain, and on Wednesdays, Rick Felan hosts Hot Monkey Love & Friends, a night of live music. Felan, who helped run the music and cultural venue Hot Monkey Love Café with his ex-wife Alma, can relate to Shannon's licensing problems. He and Alma had to close their venue this past April after battling neighbors and the city for years.
“I honestly believe that I'm probably not going to make it,” Shannon said. “All the money I had made went into this building—I almost lost my house and my marriage. It soon became overwhelming, this battle I'm fighting.”
There's a sliver of hope that Shannon will get the building labeled historic. If that happens, he may be able to get the city to rework the capacity requirements, which would allow him to get back to his goal of running an all-ages music venue. At this point, though, Shannon isn't holding his breath.
This Saturday, Sept. 13, during Ray at Night's seventh anniversary celebration from 6 to 10 p.m., he'll open the venue for a show featuring the Latin reggae band Delcampo, but if things don't start looking up, this very well could be The Avalon's last hurrah.—Kinsee Morlan
Rafter Roberts released his Sweaty Magic EP on Sept. 9, but it will be the last Rafter project with drummer Ryan Severance. The split, apparently, was not amicable. Says Severance: “I think Rafter was pressured by his label, Asthmatic Kitty, to drop me because I'm not Christian enough—plus, I refuse to vote Republican.” Maybe Severance's comment was in jest, but it hardly seems accurate—his replacement, Andy Robillard (of GoGoGo Airheart and Lady Dottie and the Diamonds, among others), confirmed he is neither Christian nor Republican. Says Robillard, “I think [Rafter] just wanted to try something different.”
Robillard also says the new Rafter material is shaping up to be completely different. “We're going after the dance market. It's pop, but it's fucking super-weird.”
Robillard also confirmed that the new owners of the San Diego Sports Club are “95 percent” sure on changing the Hillcrest dive's name to The Ruby Room, scheduled to take effect with the grand re-opening in mid-October.
Robillard, who's serving as the talent booker, said the place will be “cleaned up,” with live bands playing weekly.
Clarification: In last week's Locals Only, we included “Scolari's Office (now simply The Office)” in a list of bars that have discontinued booking live bands and DJs amid a city crackdown on unlicensed entertainment. What we meant by that was that club's old incarnation ran afoul of the authorities. Owners of The Office say the club is currently in full compliance, and it is hosting live entertainment. We regret any confusion this might have caused.—Seth Combs
It isn't often you get to catch a glimpse of society snatch. Especially snatch swathed in skin-tight sequins and riding a bucking mechanical bull. But that's exactly what my boyfriend and I beheld as we wandered around in awe at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego's smashing Friday-night fundraiser in La Jolla, Debbie Does Disco (a late-night after-party to the museum's much spendier Lone Star Ball).
The invite was impossible to pass up: flaming cocktails, desserts, dancing with Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, charity gambling, cigar rolling, and—oooooh, yes—a mechanical bull. The dress code paid homage to the Ewing clan (get it, Dallas?) with its suggestion of late-'70s, early-'80s, Texas-inspired get-ups.
My boyfriend refused to wear a bolero, but he was about the only one. High-society types, hip culturati, museum employees—all were done up in flouncy ruffles, plunging necklines, towering Stetsons, satin Western shirts and shit-kicking cowboy boots. Guests moved through the museum, which had been completely transformed for the evening, and stopped to shoot craps, sip Maker's Mark and rub shoulders with the other outrageously outfitted Texans-for-the-night.
But the best part of the whole event was downstairs, where a mechanical bull sat in the middle of a safety bounce bed. The brave and typically inebriated climbed onto it and dug their thighs in. Heels were kicked off, dresses hiked up and hands desperately clutched the saddle's make-shift horn. The bull started slowly, moving in languid circles, before it began swinging around so hard that its riders looked like flop-dolls. The yee-haws could be heard at the other end of the dance floor. —AnnaMaria Stephens
View from a stool
My recent experiences at Che Café have been erratic, and Thursday's show with Followers and Triclops! was no different. Followers were first, and their slow, repetitive jamming is similar to what local instrumentalists Sleeping People would sound like filtered through a lens of jazz and classic rock. Bassist Kenseth Thibideau provides a solid foundation for both bands, but Followers lack People's caffeinated, twitchy energy, which this show desperately needed. Granted, it's probably difficult to put on a good concert to an almost empty room.
Watching Triclops! singer John Mink wriggle around the floor on his back didn't spark excitement, either; in fact, the effect was kind of annoying. Still, my respect goes to the band for trying their best to inject energy into a disinterested crowd. I just hope they made enough money in donations to afford gas back to the Bay Area.
Saturday's show at The Casbah was better, but not entirely satisfying. First on the bill was San Francisco's Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound, whose calculatedly “retro” leanings sound like a mellower version of early Comets on Fire.
If they're aware of progressions in pop music since 1972, they're not showing it, but they do have a theremin player, which is an interesting touch.
Local three-piece Earthless scorched the stage, as usual. I continue to stand by my assertion that this is the best rock band in San Diego, and judging by the amount of people in attendance, local music fans are finally taking notice.
Earthless drummer Mario Rubalcaba then filled in on drums for headliners Witch, whose J. Mascis was absent.
Unfortunately, Rubalcaba's drumming was the best thing about Witch. There's nothing about the band that stands out from the hordes of backward-looking metal combos, and the songs scream “side project,” notwithstanding all the head-banging going on in the crowd.—Todd Kroviak