It's been eight years since I've seen punk band The Lawrence Arms. The last time I saw them was at an all-ages venue in Salt Lake City, supporting their 2006 album Oh! Calcutta! They'd been a favorite band of mine throughout high school, and I was excited to take this new girl to their show.
Eight years later, and me and that new girl are now married. We have car payments. We have streaming video. We have a new president. And all this has happened in the time in the time it took The Lawrence Arms to release a new album: Metropole.
As far as comeback records go, Metropole is excellent, just because it doesn't fall into the overcompensation that occurs when rock bands age. With lyrics like "I dream when I'm sleeping / I'll sleep when I die / I die every evening" and "My heart got kicked out of all of its homes / And dying young just didn't work so now I guess I'm dying old," it's a record about submission, and accepting your impending fall from relevancy, and admitting that Father Time is kind of a dick.
Even if anxiety about getting older is fueling their strongest lyrical material, it was hardly apparent on Saturday night when they destroyed the sold-out crowd at The Casbah. With a set-list that pulled heavily from Metropole and Oh! Calcutta! (their best album, IMO), the band delivered a performance that had fists pumping with every lyric and drunk bros hugging each other. It felt downright triumphant. Even singer/bassist Brendan Kelly—usually one of the most caustic, sarcastic and funniest frontmen in punk rock—seemed to be humbled.
However, one of the side-effects of aging is the enhanced ability to drain the glass half-empty, which is what happened when I realized that all the other times I'd seen the band were at all-age venues. It was a small trigger that made me pine for old days, when the pit was more about community instead of old drunks pushing against each other. And those venues never had security like The Casbah, who used excessive force to punish stage-divers and crowd-surfers. Honestly, I've never been a fan of crowd-surfers, but I saw a short brick of a man toss two concert-goers out by their necks. It was a sour end to an otherwise excellent night: angry at concert security and annoyed at the drunk punks, thinking about how it's unfair that things can't be like they used to be, and how we all might be too old for this.
More details have emerged about The Hideout, the new venue opening up at 3519 El Cajon Blvd.
The owners—who have chosen not to identify themselves—have invested in some upgrades to the bar and tentatively plan to have it open in February. In a conversation with CityBeat at the venue, while renovations were taking place, manager Allen Colaneri said The Hideout, whose tagline is "Grains, hops and music," will operate more like a neighborhood bar, expanding its hours to much earlier in the afternoon, and expanding the menu of beverages, from beers to craft cocktails. And, eventually, he says, they plan to serve food.
“It’s an everybody bar,” Colaneri says. “It’ll be comfortable, and you can feel right at home.”
One rumor about The Hideout that Colaneri wants to dispel, however, is that it won’t host regular live shows. Right now, it has three shows lined up: Warm Soda on March 6, The Casket Girls on March 7 and Solids on March 9. But Colaneri says there will be plenty more live music to follow.
“The new owners love music,” he says, “and we’ve all been going to The Casbah since we turned 21.”
Given that the space has closed so many times in the past—whether as The Void, Radio Room, Eleven or Zombie Lounge—there's a perceived risk about investing into a place that has been unsuccessful in the past. But Colaneri is hopeful that by putting some extra work and money into the club, it might be a positive example for other potential businesses along El Cajon Boulevard.
“That is the big question—whether we’re going to be a catalyst,” Colaneri says. “It’d be great if that happens.”
Christmas is creeping up on us ridiculously quickly, though you'd hardly know if by the looks of San Diego's weather—not a snowflake in sight. Nonetheless, local musicians are getting into the spirit with their own renditions of holiday classics or original holiday tunes. Here are some of 2013's San Diego holiday jams.
Sledding with Tigers have shared a characteristically emotional, sorta bummed-out Xmas jam titled "Jamie Frankie Numbie One," which you can stream via Sledding with Tigers' Tumblr page.
Flaggs have a fun new tune called "Please Santa," which you can stream below or download for free via the band's website.
Thirsty Moon Records will shut its doors in about two weeks. The Hillcrest store, which opened in 2005, announced via a Facebook post that its final day of business will be Sunday, Dec. 1.
“It is with heavy hearts that we are letting you know that we will be closing down Thirsty Moon Records,” the post reads. “We would like to express our sincere gratitude to our friends, families and customers who have supported and helped us over the past 8+ years.”
Co-owner Mike Eginton tells CityBeat that the motivation to close was primarily a financial one.
The Birch North Park Theatre has a new owner.
Operations and ownership of the theater, which have been in a state of limbo since its former owner, Lyric Opera, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, have been transferred to David Cohen, who owns West Coast Tavern, a theater tenant.
In 2012, Cohen bought Lyric Opera’s mortgage while it was undergoing reorganization, though it remained open while the two parties were negotiating a settlement agreement, which they have now reached.
“We came up with a settlement agreement to buy personal property from [Lyric Opera] that they valued,” Cohen tells CityBeat. “So we owned the mortgage, and now we own the theater.”
With operations of the theater (2891 University Ave.) transferred to Cohen and business partners Bobby Jones and The Verant Group, there are plans in place to renovate the seating and lobby areas in order to accommodate up to 1,200 seats, up from 731 right now.
One of Cohen’s goals with the theater is to make it more active as a music venue than it is now, and Cohen and his partners are working with six different bookers, both local and national, to keep top talent coming to the venue.
“We have a good relationship with [Casbah owner] Tim Mays, and we’ve done shows with him in the past,” Cohen says. “We’ll also be working with some of the bigger guys in L.A., New York and Chicago.”
Another new focus of the Birch North Park Theatre will be on film, using what Cohen refers to as the “Cinepolis model": The theater will hold film screenings, at which patrons will have access to food and alcohol for sale.
Cohen says that events are already being booked for as early as June, and a schedule will be released within 30 days.
In January 2014, legendary rock club The Casbah will celebrate its 25th anniversary. The venue opened in 1989 and has since become the epicenter of the local music scene, having been the place to see any number of great local or touring bands, many of whom have become legends themselves (Nirvana, Arcade Fire, Smashing Pumpkins, etc.).
As part of its celebration, The Casbah will host a month of shows featuring special performers, the first of which will be announced on Nov. 4. Additionally, artist Shepard Fairey will design a special, limited-edition Casbah T-shirt, and the city of San Diego will proclaim Jan. 7 as Casbah Day.
Five years ago, when The Casbah celebrated its 20th anniversary, it hosted a number of great shows, many of which featured reunited San Diego bands, such as Creedle, No Knife, Physics and The Dragons, as well as a series of other legendary out-of-towners like The Adolescents, Mike Watt and The Meat Puppets. So, to get anticipation levels unnecessarily high, I’ve assembled a wishlist of five bands that I’d love to see play there in January.
The Locust: The Locust have already reunited and are playing a show at Porter’s Pub in November, so why not keep the masked noisecore troupe together just a couple of months longer?
Heavy Vegetable: There’s a good chance that one or more Rob Crow-helmed bands will be a playing a Casbah 25th-anniversary show, so why not throw this out there? Though Heavy Vegetable stopped performing together in the '90s, three members reunited in 2007 as Other Men, so this isn’t entirely out of the question.
Crash Worship: One of the weirdest bands to ever come out of San Diego, this avant-garde, percussion-heavy collective were more about intense performance art than playing rock shows, which is exactly why it’d be awesome to see them come back in 2014, 15 years after they broke up.
Failure: Admittedly, Failure is not a San Diego band and is not tied to the San Diego scene in the same way all the other bands mentioned here are. But Failure frontman Ken Andrews has played the venue many times, both solo and with bands like Year of the Rabbit, and, for that matter, a handful of out-of-town acts like Meat Puppets and Mike Watt played The Casbah’s 20th-anniversary celebration. To put a cap on it, Failure already announced their return in 2014, so this one is entirely within the realm of possibility.
Drive Like Jehu: A prankster earlier this year teased a Drive Like Jehu reunion at The Fest in Florida, which unfortunately turned out to be false. Sigh. That said, if Rocket can reunite, and Hot Snakes can reunite, it’s not out of the question. Hearing “Luau” played live would make my year. Decade even.
It's not very often that something in San Diego is canceled because of weather—in fact, that's more or less the one thing you can count on in our temperate burg. But as it turns out, the Wednesday, Oct. 9, San Diego Music Awards ceremony has been postponed one week, and will now be held Oct. 16 at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay.