The last show at the club is done. There were problems, but it could have been much worse.
Someone connected with ownership oversold the show. There were angry people outside the front door who couldn’t get in, and people inside couldn’t get to the bar or were left alone while their late-arriving friends were denied entry.
There wasn’t a riot, which is a miracle. This sounds like the same situation that started the riot that happened at the Key Club during a TSOL / Youth Brigade show on January 6, 2011. One of the musicians who had played there that night told me that there were maybe a hundred people standing outside on Sunset Boulevard with paid tickets in their hand that weren’t allowed entrance because of fire code capacity. Yes, it was a punk show. But any crowd from any genre who has paid for a ticket will get agitated under those circumstances.
At (what used to be…) our club, no rioting broke out. I credit the security guards for this. They are all big enough to be a deterrent, but what was always brilliant about them was the way they could talk to people. The goal had always been not to win a fight, but to keep a fight from happening. The way these guys could talk reason and relationship into combative strangers was a marvel to witness.
So there were no fights…except between the new ownership team.
Apparently, the headliner asked for a bottle of Patron. Even if it wasn’t agreed to in a hospitality rider, this is often a very simple ‘YES’ for a venue to issue when you have a sold-out show. Everybody is happy and honored for a cost of pennies per-head.
When the request came from the bar to the guys who make those decisions, they had a disagreement. Production wanted a yes, but the Bank wanted a no. So they got in a fight in front of the patrons and had to be pulled apart by security. Then production management and bar management both walked off the job without visibly being concerned that everyone else would have to do their jobs. So Ed, Dude of Light and Fog, and Aaron the Ginger ran production (including monitors) by themselves and the bar figured out how to keep everyone served.
Again, it was a miracle that a riot didn’t break out for this second incident. Seeing a fight amongst the home team can let civilians think that a place is lawless and that they can get away with anything.
I had told these guys that if they didn’t come into this place with clean hearts, clean hands, and strong heads, that they would be overwhelmed and taken under in a spiritual rip tide. Ambitions to rule are quickly replaced by humility from trying and initially failing to see in the dark. Once you get night vision, you can begin to do well and can cautiously celebrate victories. But you always respect the next failure.
Their wonder must have worn off. I remember when one of them came to his first hip-hop show there before the sale closed. Mr. B, complete with cornrows but not wearing his mirrored stunners, was working security at the door to the smaller stage. He put the wristband on the bookish partner-prospect and said, “You enjoy yourself tonight, Playa’…”
He came into my office with only partly feigned joy and said, “I am a Playa’. No one has ever called me ‘Playa’…”
I did the math and told him that, as an Irish-Russian-Jewish Playa’, he was so unique in the world that he was perhaps the only one of his kind. Just like a unicorn. He said that he wanted a more macho personae than a unicorn. I told him that all girls go through a unicorn phase and that – at least for one brief shining moment – he will be popular.
Just like in the days of Noah’s flood, he floated away when the waters rose. And he took his pony-tailed bar manager with him.
Once upon a time, we ate fruit together and bought groceries from this place. Now everyone who cared has been scattered in every direction.
I was chopping some jalapeño peppers for salsa the other day. I made sure to take out the seeds because of their fire and bitter taste. Maybe seeds are sometimes this way to prevent them from being just eaten like everything else. People from the club who I have loved are like these seeds: They are full of fire and bitterness right now. But after they are scattered and they fall to the ground, they may disappear just for a season. The hard shells will come apart and then they will break down, but they will become something new. Someday, they will have roots again. And they will bloom. And there will be fruit.
For me, too.
Quote of the Blog from George Washington: “…Bad seed is a robbery of the worst kind…your preparations are lost, and a season passes away unimproved…”
Image of avocado seedling, courtesy of wikipedia.org.