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.
In two days — in a blur of empty pint glasses, tweaked name badges, misplaced earplugs and squealing amplifiers — San Diego Music Thing came and went. CityBeat was there, and we had a good time. And though we can't replicate the experience for you, we can share some of the highlights. It's almost like being there.
Kim Gordon: The Friday night featured speaker at the SDMT conference at the Mission Valley Sheraton, Kim Gordon is also the subject of this week's CityBeat cover story. And though, at the time of the interview, Gordon hadn't quite nailed down her topic of discussion, her SDMT address provided an interesting combination of rock 'n' roll history, beat poetry and personal anecdotes. "Disruption" was the central theme of her talk, about how Sonic Youth's mission was, more or less, to disrupt, and how those that shake things up are the ones that are worth remembering. She closed with a story about a shambolic performance at the Bridge School benefit show in 1992, helmed by Neil Young, in which Sonic Youth was asked to play an acoustic set, which they never did. It didn't go great, Gordon shouted "Fuck!" and smashed her guitar, and looked over to the side of the stage to see a group of children in wheelchairs watching the performance-art tantrum. Funny, soft-spoken and self-deprecating, Kim Gordon is as cool as ever.
Gayle Skidmore: Seven Grand was buzzing with chatter Friday night, which threatened to drown out the gentler indie folk sounds that Gayle Skidmore and her band were stirring up onstage. Frustrating as it was for a good show to compete with an audience that seemed mostly indifferent to the music, Skidmore still put on a lovely performance, her gorgeous vocals and intricate acoustic plucking making for a wonderful first act of the evening.
Titus Andronicus: When I showed up at The Irenic to catch New Jersey punk rockers Titus Andronicus, they were engaged in a lengthy guitar jam, more Allman Brothers than Replacements. Then things took an even more peculiar turn when, as a special treat (?) for this Southern California audience, the band launched into a cover of Sublime's "April 29, 1992." Against all odds, it actually sort of worked, thanks in large part to Patrick Stickles' ability to yelp his way through anything and make it sound fun. But from there, the energy level ramped up dramatically, as the band plowed through favorites like "A More Perfect Union," "Titus Andronicus Forever," and dramatic closing barn-burner "Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ." Slow start or not, this band has the power to turn a chill night into an instant riot.
Two Wolves: The lineup for the showcase at The Casbah on Saturday night seemed a peculiar grouping of artists, slotting the gimmick-laden alternative rock of Gram Rabbit between Kim Gordon's new improvisational art-rock duo Body/Head and local psychedelic groovers Wild Wild Wets. Over in the Atari Lounge, however, concertgoers were practically stepping into a different era thanks to the '50s-style rockabilly and surf-guitar sounds of Two Wolves, which were actually a trio, rounded out by a baritone sax player. Whether or not they made sense in the context of the show, they were definitely fun.
Wild Wild Wets: Wild Wild Wets actually did make more sense on the same lineup as Kim Gordon's new band, not just because of their hazy, disorienting nature, but because both bands include heavy use of projected visuals in their stage show. That said, WWW are a more conventional rock band that relies on hard-hitting grooves and effects-laden melodies. Easily one of the best live acts in town, by the time they get around to releasing a full-length, there's little doubt they'll be at the top of their studio game as well.
Body/Head: Closing out the festival at The Casbah, Kim Gordon's new band Body/Head—comprising just herself and collaborator Bill Nace—shook up the place with a dose of low-key weird. With just two guitars and Gordon's vocals, the duo stripped away the rock bombast and delivered a meditative, dreamy, droning set that at times recalled early no-wave Sonic Youth, but by and large inhabited its own world. Behind them, a slow-motion film scene progressed, with clips of a woman's hair floating like jellyfish tentacles, making for a hypnotic accompaniment to their art-rock drift. Experimental, strange and oddly beautiful, Body/Head ended SDMT not with drama, but with some interesting, engaging surprises.
"I'm psychedelically sick right now."
By offering this warning to a packed, sweaty House of Blues Wednesday night, Neko Case made a futile attempt to downplay expectations for her headlining set. Bands get sick on the road all the time—it happens. In 2002, I watched Death Cab for Cutie play a set after frontman Ben Gibbard had "projectile vomited," as his bandmates described. And in 2006, I saw Ryan Adams sustain a head injury onstage, which didn't actually prevent him from finishing his set; he merely sopped up the blood with a towel and kept on trucking.
Midway through Rocket from the Crypt's recent show at the Del Mar Racetrack, frontman John Reis, aka "Speedo," told an anecdote about watching a Don Ho concert. There was a mention of some strange mixing device with a telephone attached, but the message of the story was buried way at the end, about how much the Hawaiian performer hates having to play "Tiny Bubbles," even though that's the reason people come to hear him perform.
In an ideal situation, this would have transitioned into Rocket covering "Tiny Bubbles" (now that would be something). Instead, it gave Reis an opportunity to tell the audience about a song they'd grown tired of performing, even though it's one that everybody wants to hear. And in appreciation of their fans, they were going to play it anyway, because that's what entertainment is all about. A few ideas ran through my head of what it could be. "On a Rope"? No, they'd already played that one earlier. "Killy Kill"? Maybe. "Break it Up"? Eh, that wasn't even that big of a hit.
The song, it turns out, is "Ditch Digger," arguably one of the best songs they've ever written. In fairness to the band, it's 20 years old, and they've probably played it a thousand times. It's hard to begrudge them that. But when the band ripped through the song last weekend, they didn't half-ass it. In fact, it was the tightest they sounded all evening, even more so than the quartet of Scream, Dracula, Scream! highlights that opened the set.
It's not so uncommon for a band to grow weary of their own songs. Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders isn't a fan of their big single, "Brass in Pocket." And Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmeister reportedly doesn't care much for "Ace of Spades." It's just one of the hazards of giving the people what they want, night after night, for years.
In October, Rocket will play another hometown show at House of Blues, on Halloween. And there's plenty of great tunes they can dust off if they so choose: "Ball Lightning," "Fat Lip," "Short Lip Fuser," "This Bad Check is Gonna Stick," "S.O.S." et al. All the same, we appreciate indulging us in a hit, even if for just the one time.
Ever since Street Scene went bankrupt after its final two-day festival in 2009, the long-term future of music festivals in San Diego has been in serious doubt. In fact, CityBeat even published a feature on whether or not it's plausible to even have a large-scale festival within our city limits. Despite that setback, however, more effort has been put into putting together more festival events in San Diego.
On Friday, Aug. 16, San Diego IndieFest kicks off a three-day weekend of music and film, bringing together both local and national artists on five different stages. On Friday evening, a series of electronic artists will be serving up beats for the festival kick-off, but the bulk of the action happens on Saturday, when headliners Cake and four-dozen other acts will perform at the NTC Promenade.
There's a lot to choose from this year, spanning numerous genres and styles. Here we've highlighted six solid artists who are definitely worth your time if you plan to hit up the festival.