Tomorrow night at Beauty Bar, So What! The Club celebrates its twentieth year of keeping Denver funky. Earlier this week, we shared some of the fliers from the early days when the night first got going at City Spirit on through its move to various other locales, including 9th Avenue West and Rock Island. Today, occasional Backbeat contributor Shawn White (aka DJ Big Styles) shares some of his favorite memories from So What!, including the time the So What! crowd was enlisted to appear in a commercial for Replay Jeans to a few amusing celebrities encounters involving Massive Attack and Velvet Revolver.
So What! The Club Has Always Been All About the Crowd
More than the celebrities who came through So What! The Club over the years (I'll get to a few of those stores in a moment), my favorite memory of So What! has everything to do with our crowd. The vibe at So What! is timeless cool because the people who have always come to our parties are actually legit. They don't put on airs; they don't freak out and starfuck when a celebrity shows up at the party. Like our motto: They don't front; they just funk.
Because of this, when people have friends visit from out of town, they always bring those friends down to check it out. So on any given night, you have a good amount of people from all over the world who have chosen to spend their night at So What! Back in the City Spirit days, my friends David Lucas and William Logan brought their mutual friend Michael Haussman down to check out the vibe. Michael is the world famous director of music videos such as "Take a Bow" by Madonna and "Sexy Back" by Justin Timberlake -- IMDB the dude; he's awesome.
Michael, who is a Colorado native, just couldn't believe the level of sophistication with the So What! crowd and decided to cast a commercial he was in town to shoot for Replay Jeans almost entirely from the So What! crowd.
What ended up happening was that the next week, on like Wednesday, all the people who had been cast met up and spent the day shooting in the Comedy Works. It was like a special daytime edition of So What! The Club, and it just shows that there are real connections that have come about from this little Tuesday night party. I think I speak for all of us when I say that that is what we are most proud of and what we will remember the most.
Keep reading for some classic So What! The Club stories involving Daddy G from Massive Attack and Slash and Velvet Revolver.
A Dust up with Daddy G from Massive Attack
Anyone who knows me knows I have bad luck with celebrities, especially celebs that I admire. I have completely given up on being excited about meeting celebrity X because I already know where it's going to go, based on experience. Let me give you an example: So What! has never had a larger crowd than when we were at 9th Ave West/La Rumba during a time period when a nearby club had to close for a liquor violation or taxes or something.
At that time, we had a core crowd of about 300-400 people who would come see us every week, and the people who kept driving down the street to find us put our numbers close to 500 or 600 some nights. (Remember this is a TUESDAY night "Acid Jazz" club, basically underground.) All the stragglers made us the certified place to be, and we had a lot of things just fall in our lap because of it.
For instance: Massive Attack after their first Colorado show just ended up coming in and kicking it with us for free at, like, the height of their popularity. I am pretty sure Ms. Deirdre made them pay cover! (She made EVERYBODY pay cover, no matter how famous or infamous. True story.)
So anyway, we set up on the stage just like they did when Lipgloss was there, and so as I get up to start my set, I notice there's a bunch of funny style dudes and really attractive chicks in the corner stage right. I have no confirmation but I'm convinced this must be Massive Attack or members of their crew, so I pour it on heavy playing all my hottest records. I was particularly proud of a white label promo I had scored of Bahamadia and the Roots covering MC Lyte's "Paper Thin." I slammed it into the mix and all of a sudden I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned right and it was Daddy G from Massive Attack. If you don't know, he's the big, black, Herman Munster-on-crack-lookin' dude who's always frowning in the promo pics. No one knows what he does in the band. Seriously.
So here comes his request in his heavy weed scented, english accent "Ayo mate! Vats a hot choon, mate! It's Bahamadeeer on that, innit? Mate, there's live drums, too, innit?" "Yeah bruh," I answered, excited because I just impressed one of the dues from Massive Attack. 'It's Bahamadia and the Roots; it's a promo that just dropped!" "Wot? The Roots, yeah? Wicked mate! Tell yuh wot, mate, you give me that record, and I'll email you a bunch of exclusive Massive stuff we did with Mad Professor wot's never comin' out, right? You fancy Mad Professor?"
"Nah, bruh, I don't like Mad Professor. I think that album he did for you guys is whack. What else you offering?" "'Ave yuh gone mad, mate? Them Mad Professor sides are large, mate. Trust me. Bruv, you want these. Now give me that choon!" I actually started to be convinced, thinking about the 1.5 friends I had that would care that I had "exclusive" Massive Attack vs. Mad Professor tracks.
Then I considered his touring schedule and the fact that I literally had to fight to get this promo. "Yo, aren't you guys on your way to like San Francisco in the morning and Asia after that? I'm quite sure you can get your hands on your own copy somewhere. If I give this to you, all I will be left with is the promise that you might send me some shit that I don't want."
"Oh, you don't trust me, mate? I'm givin' you the chance of a lifetime to score some exclusives," he said, getting madder at this point, "and haven't got balls enough to trust me?! You aren't got any balls at all! You got no balls, mate. Just gimme the choon! Stop being a pussy clot!"
So it's not enough to call my manhood into question, he had to pull out a little patois slang terms to make his point? Lucky for Daddy G, he had caught me on the right day for some bullshit. I took off my headphones and turned to cuss him out, and when I did, he started jabbing his finger in my chest and getting all aggressive! "That's the problem, innit? You 'aven't got any balls!" So I'm like, "Bitch, if you don't back the fuck up!"
Just then, Daddy G jabbed me in the chest with his finger again, and I grabbed his finger and pushed him off the stage onto, like, half his entourage. He jumps back on stage, and now we are tussling, as he's trying to grab my record off the turntables. I'm trying to choke this dude out.
Keep in mind that the whole time this is happening, DJ K-nee is less than three feet away from me on the other side of the stage, oblivious, talking to some chick. The record that's on is ending, and all the lil' Massive Attack dudes are holding us apart. Daddy G continued to taunt me as they took him out the side door of 9th Ave and I guess onto their tour bus. I was pretty pissed but satisfied that he walked away empty handed that night.
Keep reading for another story about Slash and Velvet Revolver
Slash and Velvet Revolver Stop by So What!
The most important thing for So What! to be successful is always location. RISE was an interesting experiment as we tried to shrink a very large space and give it an off-night, intimate club feel. We set up at the upstairs bar/VIP area in a corner behind the bar. It worked out great because it felt like the club was supposed to be closed, and they opened up just for us and our friends.
Velvet Revolver had just played Pepsi Center or something that night, and they wanted to go to the "coolest spot in town." The manager of RISE, Sean, was freaking out as he was a big fan of the group, and a couple people on staff were pretty psyched when they showed up. The So What! crowd, on the other hand, could. not. care. less.
Sean cordoned off a couple of booths right in front of the bar for the band and the strippers and groupies they brought with them, who had no idea what to do with the sounds we were playing. Imagine a bunch of half drunk rock stars sulking in a corner because they are being ignored, surrounded by thirsty groupies who can't catch the beat!
As it happened, I am a fan of Slash, and I was feeling a couple of their joints, so I was psyched. I was even more excited after closing time when the whole band and their entourage were still hanging out. So myself, Ken and Aztec are packing up our records and equipment, and I notice somebody trying to get my attention. I turn around and there is Slash standing on the other side of the bar.
This was my moment! I played it cool: "What up, doggie? What can I do for you?" His voice and reaction were not what I expected at all. In the nicest tone of voice, he asked, "A lot of us would still like to have a drink. I know it's past closing time, but do you think it would be a problem if we found a bartender and had a couple more drinks?"
"I don't see why not," I returned, knowing that such a thing is highly against the law. "Problem is, I don't know where the bartenders are, and I know for sure all drinks have to be done by 2 a.m., and it's like 1:55 AM right now." Slash was the picture of civility, nodded his head in the affirmative and started back toward his table. My heart was broken.
This is my bi-racial rock guitar god hero, and he's taking no for an answer. I had to do something, so I yelled to him: "Hey, whoa! Bruh! Whoa! Waitaminnit, hold it right there. No disrespect or anything, but, man, it feels like you're going out like a punk! I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't you "The Mighty Slash," rock legend, known for destroying hotel rooms and women's hearts and giving zero fucks about either? I mean, you are not the guy I imagined. The Slash in my mind wouldn't take no for an answer; he would hop over that bar, grab a handle of jack and start lubricating ass!"
I felt like Obama (even though he was yet to give his big speech at the '04 DNC that summer, but it's trendy for black dudes to say they "felt like Obama" whenever they are inspirational). And that's what I was, an inspiration. Slash's dead middle-aged eyes got a little light in them, so he threw on his dark sunglasses, flashed me a devilish grin and hopped over the bar and grabbed the biggest bottle of jack he could find and yelled out something like "We're gonna get fucked up now bitches!!!"
His entourages screamed their approval, and I was thinking of the stories I might tell/sell to the media about Velvet Revolver's drunken after-hours soiree when suddenly Sean the manager peeped his head out of the upstairs office, took one look at what was going on and in no uncertain terms freaked the fuck out.
"What the FUCK are you doing behind my bar? Are you crazy? Put that bottle of Jack down, and go sit down with your friends, or I swear to God I'll break your fucking arm and THEN I will call the cops! I don't give a fuck WHO you are!"
I couldn't see Slash's face, but by the way he slid back over the bar and skulked back over to the band in VIP, I knew he was crushed in a really deep way. I felt responsible, but I didn't know what to say. What do you say to the rebel rockstar who just got faced by Westminster's Fiercest Stay at Home Dad? No one said anything for the next ten minutes or so. We finished packing up, the band paid their tab, and everybody went to where they were supposed to be.
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