The September 28 Deicide show at the Mercury Cafe was, to put it mildly, a mess. However, seemingly no one can agree on who was at fault or what should be done about it.

This much is fairly certain: Deicide, a nationally known band beloved by death-metal fanciers, was scheduled to headline a date that night featuring two other acts, Like Hell and Wicked Innocence. The promoter of record was Dan Steinberg, of 2B Announced Presents. By the morning of the event, though, problems had started to bubble to the surface. According to Marilyn Megenity, owner of the Mercury, "The band called Dan Saturday morning and said, 'You need to provide this and this and this' in terms of gear. Well, Dan scrambled to get what they wanted, and he got good equipment. But when the band got here, they said, 'We need this and this, also.'" In an effort to acquire the additional gadgets requested by the musicians, Megenity called Emilio, a blues guitarist of local renown who rents out sound equipment as a sideline. He collected the requested supplies and hustled to the Mercury. But the Deicide players found the provisions lacking. "They said one of the amps didn't work," Megenity relates. "Which isn't true. It did work. But we got them another amp anyway. And then they still refused to play."

What happened afterward wasn't quite a riot, but it certainly was ugly. To demonstrate how upset they were that no Deicide performance would be taking place, a handful of the 300 ticket-buyers present caused minor damage to the club and swiped about $2,000 worth of sound equipment. Early reports that the Mercury had been left in a shambles are unfounded; diners downstairs were unaffected by the ruckus, and a book-signing with author/filmmaker Michael Moore took place the next day as scheduled. But Megenity acknowledges that the fracas constituted "a scary situation" that she was unable to defuse. "When Deicide came downstairs without playing, I told them, 'Get the hell back up there and play. These people paid money to see you--they're your fans,'" she recounts. "Now, these guys still want to keep their bad-boy reputation, but they're middle-aged men. And they said, 'No--they're so angry that we feel endangered.' So I went on stage and tried to calm everybody down. But then some drunk guys in front started spitting on me. And that was enough for me. I got out of there."

What exactly set off this mess can't be confirmed. Some Mercury staffers suggest that the bandmembers exhorted the crowd to trash the place, but Megenity says only that she thinks the musicians "didn't get enough sleep." Steinberg, for his part, avoids talking about specifics; he says that at the time of the altercation, he was at Mammoth Events Center overseeing another event he was promoting--an appearance by the Newsboys, a Christian outfit. Efforts to reach Deicide directly were unsuccessful, but Mike Oberman, Deicide's New York-based agent, flatly denies that the rockers would tell their followers to riot. "Absolutely not," he says. "Deicide is one of the most reliable acts around. They think of their fans first--and I know they would never do something like that."

It's possible that these matters will wind up in court. According to Megenity, "I'm not normally the type of person who gets involved in lawsuits. I sued a landlord once, but I've never sued a band or anything like that. But Dan has $5,000 in losses, and Deicide were so irresponsible that I think we're going to sue them jointly." Steinberg won't confirm any of these statements. "I don't deal with legal matters," he claims. "That's completely out of my hands." He says only that he's going to make good on any losses Megenity sustained--and while he's not offering refunds on the Deicide show, he promises that anyone who presents a Deicide ticket stub at the next death-metal show he's promoting (Cannibal Corpse, December 5 at the Aztlan Theatre) will receive a $5 discount.

Oberman, meanwhile, hints that Deicide has its own bone to pick with Steinberg. After first deferring comment, he says, "The band is going to be suing the promoter. The promoter failed to supply the equipment that was required--so in my opinion, the band was totally in the right." He adds, "Deicide are intelligent people, and they are genuinely upset by this. They have never, ever not done a show like this before, and if they could have played, they would have played. They do care about their fans, you know."

Megenity tells another story. "They are a band with a bad reputation," she insists, "and they were so rude, I almost canceled the show at eight o'clock. We bent over backwards and kissed ass for three hours because of them, and then they refused to play." She's so upset by the incidents this decision provoked that she says she'll no longer be booking death metal into her club. "I'm sick of it all," she fumes (and it takes a lot to make Megenity fume). "I'm sick of anything angry and nihilistic. I enjoyed Jello Biafra and Henry Rollins in 1983, but I'm sick of this slavish imitation of them and the promotion of death all over the world. And I'm not having it at the Mercury anymore."

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