Cops storm the Mercury, the Red Eyed Fly spars with the city, Kissinger get shit-faced in Detroit, and local musicians get all lovey-dovey.
In this ever-changing world, one equation will remain the same until Rob Zombie wins a Dove award: Large crowds and small clubs plus police intervention equals trouble, a scenario played out (again) last Friday night at the Mercury's Living Legends hip-hop roadshow. The dance began when Austin fire marshals, on their early-evening maintenance rounds, noticed the long line outside the club's entrance. Battalion Chief Dan Smith told Chronicle Politics writer Jordan Smith that they returned at around 1am to find a boisterous crowd enthralled by Oakland underground crew Mystik Journeymen and asked for the club's load card (capacity is 299). After the marshals head-counted about 400, club management asked if the show could finish. That's when Dan Smith says he noticed "the floor was moving." He called the police, and two officers entered the club and stopped the show around 1:45am. This didn't sit too well with Journeymen PSC and Sun Spot Jonz, who exited only after leading the requisite "bullshit" chant and a few choice rhymes over Nirvana's "Rape Me." As people began making for the exits, Chronicle writer Christopher Coletti, who was at the show, says, "Some knuckleheads started throwing shit at the stage," prompting the two officers to begin spraying mace. Outside, according to another eyewitness, the now-gasping clubgoers were greeted by a phalanx of squad cars and mounted police employing rather aggressive dispersal tactics that ended with four arrests. A fire marshal click-count of people leaving the club numbered 600 through the front and 100-200 through the club's back entrance. Miraculously, no one was seriously injured, though one officer was struck by a bottle and taken to the hospital for stitches, but many left with the impression that the police overreacted; Coletti notes, "They would've done more good pushing people toward the door instead of macing everybody." APD spokesman Kevin Buchman defended the department's actions, saying the crowd only dispersed after officers began spraying, and the club was "very overcrowded -- at least twice the rated capacity. Those buildings weren't built to handle that kind of crowd." Mercury owner Mark Collins, via e-mail, had this to say: "As far as my official statement is concerned, I will say that there were things that should have definitely been handled differently, on both sides."
Fly in the Ointment
Fallout from the recently passed noise ordinance is already settling over Red River, where Red Eyed Fly owner/operator Heath Macintosh hopes his club hasn't been hung out to dry. Although the Fly's patio is largely enclosed, as an "outdoor" venue, its hours of operation could be sharply curtailed under the new ordinance, which stipulates outdoor music go no later than 10:30pm Sunday-Wednesday, 11pm Thursday, and midnight Friday and Saturday. As he's already spent close to $30,000 on soundproofing the patio, and even come to terms with the nearby homeowners association, Macintosh would like to avoid this. "What band wants to headline at 9pm on a Wednesday?" he wonders. The easiest solution, he says, would be to simply push back the Sixth Street entertainment district's northern boundary one block to Eighth Street, thereby allowing music to go until 2am nightly. A meeting with the assistant city manager's office Monday "went well, considering the circumstances," Macintosh says, adding that the club should be in the clear for now, since enforcement of the ordinance is not expected to begin until after SXSW. In the meantime, he wants to begin laying the groundwork for a Red River nightclub association, in hopes that the city will cease to see the area -- which now contains the highest concentration of live music clubs in Austin -- as a sort of stepchild to Sixth Street and the Warehouse District.
In the tradition of Cotton Mather and Darin Murphy, Austin singer-songwriter Jeff Klein's new CD, Everybody Loves a Winner, has been drawing raves in England, with The London Times opining "... the first great album of the year has arrived in record time" in its four-star review... Valentine's Day options for a romantic night on the town include Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers Band at Bass Concert Hall, crooner Bobby Caldwell at the One World Theatre, the Golden Hornet Orchestra accompanying the original Hunchback of Notre Dame at the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown, and an Orange Mothers/Li'l Cap'n Travis double bill at Ego's... Sunday's roller derby season opener will be dedicated to recently passed "penalty mistress" Amber Diva, but organizer Heather Burdick says punk rock lifer Randy "Biscuit" Turner has agreed to assume Diva's punitive duties. Doors open at 6pm Sunday at Playland Skating Rink, Burnet and 183, with music by Tang and U.S.S. Friendship.
Eat Your Rock & Roll
Local rock & roll road warriors Kissinger, fresh from a three-week tour of the frigid Midwest, return tonight (Thursday) to the Mercury for the release of their new EP, Rock & Roll Ain't Cheap. The frenetic fourpiece sold out of the $5 CDs on the trip, where stops included a converted firehouse completely staffed by high school kids in North Manchester, Ind., and the Void, a onetime Cincinnati drugstore now run as a sort of cooperative by six enterprising Ohio youth. "It was the filthiest place we've ever been," says frontman Chopper of the club's band quarters. "There must have been 300 beer cans there, and pornography everywhere." In Detroit, Kissinger's first-ever gig in the White Stripes' hometown found them playing with a band featuring two strippers, "who covered their nipples with stickers advertising the band and made out with each other onstage," plus a singer "who lit his leather pants on fire two or three times." Afterward, the club owner offered to let Kissinger stay at his place after he and the bar staff "cleaned up." "That must be a colloquial phrase for 'get shitfaced,'" muses Chopper, because guitarist Steve Garvey was soon playing Bryan Adams songs on the club's piano as the strippers poured Long Island Iced Teas for a pair of Motor City cops -- one of whom wound up purchasing a copy of the new EP. "The rest of the night is a blur, punctuated by several renditions of Journey's 'Any Way You Want It,'" relays the singer. After tonight's show, with the Real Heroes and Dallas' Happiness Factor, the band plans to (perhaps wisely) retire from the road in order to practice several times a week, with an eye toward making progress on the long-awaited follow-up to 2000's full-length, Charm.
Rubberhed, Throw Your Voice: Already no strangers to radio, Rubberhed's second EP and third overall release promises to net the local fivepiece even more airplay. Opener "Bitter" should already be familiar to 101X listeners, as its Epitaph-style bounce expertly complements the Riddlin' Kids and Dynamite Boy, but even the more severe "Stand" and "Branded" balance furrowed-brow hardcore with rock-the-party exuberance. Roll up those Dickies and prepare for liftoff.
Rubberhed release Throw Your Voice Saturday, Feb. 15 at the Back Room with Born to Lose, Fire Kills, and Interstate 808.
Love Is All Around
In the spirit of Valentine's Day, "TCB" asked local musicians the simple question, "What's your favorite love song and why?"
Darin Murphy: Rodgers & Hart's "Where or When" (performed by Bryan Ferry): "This song describes perfectly, and in so few words, the way that love can feel so fresh, and yet so familiar that it seems like déjà vu. Ferry's delivery is breathtaking."
Eric Unusual, the Cruel & Unusual: Devo, "Snowball": "A metaphoric beauty from one of the masters of the love song. I'm a dork!"
Adrienne Sneed, the Tuna Helpers: Peter Cetera, "The Glory of Love" (from Karate Kid II): "Duh. This is the first song I learned to play on piano. I felt like such a beautiful person when I performed this song that my eyes would water in amazement for myself. I also wanted to get in that girl's kimono."
Jennifer Ellen Cook: Chris Isaak, "Wicked Game": "The wistful guitar and his heartbroken voice capture the saddest sort of love. On the same album is 'Spanish Eyes,' which has a trumpet solo that's the most bone-marrow sexy thing I've ever heard."
Rachel Staggs, Experimental Aircraft/the Swells: Black Tambourine, "Black Car": "Jangly distorted guitars and lyrics like, 'I watch you, but you don't see me. I touch you, but it's in my dreams.' Sad, but lovely."
Ethan Azarian, Orange Mothers: Mike Nicolai, "Awkward Love": "I love the line about 'Love's got egg on its face.' I really like his whole dry delivery, and that song sums up love when you're 18 or 19, drunk, and stumbling around."
Alice Spencer, Victrola: Harry Nilsson, "I'll Never Leave You": "Musically, it's incredible. The chords and the melody hit me where it hurts. It's super sappy and over the top. It captures that vulnerable thing about love."
Karen Poston, the Crystal Pistols: Rodney Crowell, "After All This Time": "Its lyrics are subtle and call for a little theorizing, and its melody is simple and enduring. I hear it these days and still think, 'What a great song.' I'm a sucker for an unresolved love story."
Christina Marrs, Asylum Street Spankers: Otis Redding, "Try a Little Tenderness": "Otis is so cool. What more can I say?