Dancing About Architecture

Unnecessary Roughness

Wham, bam, no thank you, man! Strange how things snowball in this town. Last week, I got a call from River City Rapists member Derek Meyers alleging that he and others had recently been assaulted by bouncers at Emo's (a longtime employee of the club admitted that there had been some unusual occurrences that week, though nothing as extreme as Meyers claimed), but that situation was immediately overshadowed by reports that Afghan Whigs singer Greg Dulli was in the hospital with a fractured skull following an altercation with a Liberty Lunch stagehand after the Whigs' show there on Friday. Dulli has since been released from Brackenridge (the hospital itself declines comment), and reports are that he's OK, but the big question around town since last weekend has been, "What the hell happened?"

First off, let's just say that Dulli has an unfortunate history regarding Austin venues. A summer 1990 show at the old Cannibal Club turned to disaster when Dulli, apparently attempting to cool off the sweltering audience with water from a glass pitcher, accidentally turned loose the vessel and clocked a patron in the head, leading to a spate of lawsuits. Tales through the years have seemingly settled on the story that the demise of that Sixth Street pre-"alt rock" institution came directly as a result of debt incurred by the club, but the truth of the matter is that the venue's already overwhelming unpaid tax and TABC bills proved to be the final straws that broke the Cannibal's back. And now comes this incident.

Lunch representatives say their lawyers have told them not to comment on the matter at this time, but previously published reports quote the club's co-manager Mileah Jordan saying that Dulli was the aggressor, first threatening and then attacking a stagehand. Witnesses say Dulli, apparently angered over a confrontation earlier in the day, stayed after the club closed to take care of "unfinished business" with the worker, going after him with a two-by-four, at which point the stagehand hit Dulli once and caused the singer to fall backwards and hit his head on the pavement. Police reports seem to back this story as no charges have been filed against anyone, but needless to say, lawyers have been burning the midnight oil on what could turn into another long, drawn-out case involving the troubled Liberty Lunch.

You see, even assuming that the club is completely devoid of fault in the incident, the Dulli brawl is exactly the sort of publicity the Lunch didn't need following last week's news that the Austin City Council and Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) have agreed to discuss bringing that company's offices into an area of downtown that includes the block currently occupied by the Lunch. Tossing Dulli aside for the moment (oops! sorry), most of you skimming the politics section here in the Chronicle last week, or relying on secondhand information, might be convinced that the death-knell of that venerable live music institution called Liberty Lunch has been sounded; certainly the Lunch personnel hardly seem chipper about the building's fate. But the fact of the matter is that there's still time to stop the bulldozers, if enough people get together to confront the city with the question of where they get off callously knocking down establishments that are, in people's hearts if not on paper, Austin landmarks. The Lunch folks say the city has promised to help them move, but they have received no information whatsoever regarding what help or where they may be going. (Does anyone know if the old Cardi's building is still available? Maybe the next city move will be to put that eyesore Stevie Ray Vaughan statue under the 360 bridge because it currently attracts pesky pigeons to Auditorium Shores.)

The city is clearly hoping that people will just accept the change as another mutation in the continually morphing music scene, but guess what? The people don't have to! Remember the surprise Democratic wins in the last election? Those were the results of people willing to fight against assumed failure for their cause. And whatever happened to the idea of establishing an arts district in the area where the CSC hopes to lumber into? The city has yet to produce rock-solid plans for their big project, and that means there is still time to fight. In upcoming weeks the Chronicle will be telling you just how you can do so ó calls for petitions and such are already trickling into the office. Just remember, while the city does indeed own the property where the Lunch now stands, they still have to bow to the demands of the citizens of this city, and I think it's safe to say that the majority of people in Austin agree with me when I say that in this day and age, cities simply do not destroy their historical landmarks.

Down the Roky Path

I hate to say "I told you so," but I did, when I warned you last week not to expect any miracles at the Roky Erickson show last Thursday at the Continental Club. I don't know where the hell the Statesman got the idea that Erickson was likely to play a full set, but when I (and a large percentage of the crowd) left the club at 1am ó just as the Mystic Knights of the Sea had run out of Roky songs and started trying to pass off old Nick Lowe covers as his "lost works" ó Erickson had yet to set foot in the club. In fact, he never even got as far as putting on a shirt to leave his home. Still, the audience seemed pretty satisfied with the Knights' sloppy but powerful takes on Roky's classics and the hope that their attendance meant money in the struggling eccentric's trust fund. Now if only the person who pulls the purse strings would use part of that money to get Roky some fucking medical attention, perhaps I'd be more optimistic about the next time he's cajoled into a performance.

It's a (Gasp!) Conspiracy!

There's been controversy in the recent past involving certain shows changing venues, especially when said shows end up at Direct Events-run locations; you probably recall the ruckus and name-calling that ensued when Los Super Seven's riotous sellout show last month ended up at La Zona Rosa after previously being claimed by Liberty Lunch. It's no wonder, then, that people have been whispering that there must be something sneaky and underhanded about the moving of Dr. John from Antone's (where he held court at this time last year) to La Zona Rosa on December 30. Susan Antone pooh-poohs that notion, saying she was thrown for a loop at the number of folks who have come to her airing their suspicions. The change of venue was for simpler reasons, she claims: Advance ticket sales revealed that "the show was just getting too big" for Antone's.

Mixed Notes

Say goodbye to Breedlove ó or maybe not. That band's singer, Dan Dyer, has quit and the band has four gigs left, the final Austin show scheduled for December 26 at La Zona Rosa. The remaining members plan to continue as a foursome after the turn of the year, but are not sure whether they'll be changing their name. Ironically, the full band's actual last show will be in Fort Worth, December 28, opening for the late Storyville...

Speaking of missing members, if you've been wondering why Steamroller has been appearing as a trio of late, singer/guitarist Kevin Dodds has taken a leave of absence as his brother Brandon has been missing since December 8 and is presumed to have died when his small plane crashed into a swamp in Florida. The quartet expects to be complete again for their New Year's show at Steamboat...

It turns out that guitarist Allen Durham is the only member of Dumptruck who's taking a powder, says founder Seth Tiven. Rather than a near-breakup, Tiven describes the situation as merely, "A relatively brief interruption in the existence of Dumptruck"...

There's a benefit next Wednesday at the Flamingo Cantina for the family of Mike Chester, formerly of Not for Sale. Chester died November 11 as a result of head injuries suffered during a robbery he was trying to stop (the perpetrator has since been charged with murder). The Punkaroos, Ignorance Park, Reddy and the Kilowatts, Ass Nipple, and Tang will perform...

Another death (of sorts), comes in the form of Technophilia, the longtime used CD store on the Drag, announcing the closing of its doors after January 1...

Fans of Robert Shaw can look for an Austrian CD titled The 1971 Party Tape, Recorded at Ben Conroy's Home, January 29, 1971, which I doubt will be easy to find in most parts of this country. Austinite Conroy says he's trying to ensure that copies of the late bluesman's new release are available in local stores...

Another act to add to your list of Texas bands dropped by major labels (last week's was Tripping Daisy, if you forgot to clip 'n' save): Rev. Horton Heat is no longer with Interscope, according to various reports...

Meanwhile, Dallas' Pantera is riding high as the official opening act of the Black Sabbath reunion tour. Admit it ó you're jealous as hell...

There's another new Austin-recorded Ani DiFranco album due in stores on January 19. Produced at Congress House, the album is called Up Up Up Up Up Up, her 10th in nine years, and Austin is lucky to have drawn such a prolific artist to spend her money here...

If you heard a racket coming from above the Drag a couple of weeks ago, it was probably Solid Gold 40's rooftop show and release party for their new Ridden Hard and Hung Up Wet cassette EP. That's still available in local record shops if you liked what you heard...

Haven't heard much from Don Walser lately, but you likely will soon; the yodelin' yokel will be doing a video shoot out at the Broken Spoke this Saturday...

Things are pretty quiet on the South by Southwest front this week, as the staff settles into their new brick home (at the same old address). They're still processing data following their submission deadline, but they reveal that over 4,100 applications for band showcases came in for this year's conference and that more are still trickling in from around the globe. Official invitations begin going out next week, but don't panic if you don't get one soon; international acts are first on the list, and it'll probably be way down the line before you get your letter of acceptance or rejection...

The holiday season is also the season for benefits; the recent Iggy Pop/Stooges hoot at the Hole in the Wall brought in over $1,000 for Blue Santa and close to another $100 for an additional, unexpected charity (as seen in last week's "Postmarks"). Check the music ads and listings for more benefits...

Funniest moment at Torture King's performance last Monday at Emo's came when he used his body as a living conductor to power a neon sign for sponsor Camel cigarettes. Cries of "Sellout!" from the audience seemed suspiciously centered in the area where fellow Jim Rose Circus Sideshow vets Mr. Lifto and the Enigma were standing and grinning widely...

Contributors: Michael Bertin, Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser

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More Dancing About Architecture
Dancing About Architecture
Dancing About Architecture
The last installment of "Dancing About Architecture."

Ken Lieck, Jan. 3, 2003

So Long, Slug
So Long, Slug

Ken Lieck, Dec. 20, 2002


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