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."
A Samples update. In our September 19 edition, Rob Kos, vice president of artists management for Metropolitan Entertainment, the Samples' New York-based management firm, was asked to comment about the arrest of the group's longtime keyboard player, Al Laughlin. Kos responded by confirming that Laughlin was suffering from a drug problem, adding, "What happened with the arrest has every sign of someone who hadn't taken care of his problems. So it's unlikely that Al will be rejoining the band until he deals with these issues."
Well, throw those comments out the window: Laughlin played alongside his bandmates during a visit to the Fox Theatre on September 30 not even three weeks after he was busted for allegedly burglarizing a Boulder apartment. "He's not back in the Samples," Kos states weakly, "but we're hoping that this show can lead to him rejoining the band. The guys have known him for a long while, and they spent some time with him and feel good about how he's taking care of things." The group left for a tour last week, and while Laughlin did not join them, his absence was hardly an example of tough love on the part of his fellow musicians. The primary reason for his non-participation, Kos admits, is that "Al needs to resolve some legal issues before he's allowed to leave town."
Reviews of local recordings, anyone?
A positive development in (don't cringe) neo-hippie music is the embrace of funk by many of the style's practitioners. It makes sense, of course: Funk bands allow their songs to stretch beyond most accepted boundaries, while hippies love to jam, jam, jam. However, the blending of these approaches doesn't ensure that the results will be convincing. Zestfinger's Abduction at the Midnight Rodeo, for example, only intermittently hints at the grit, energy and sexuality of undiluted funk. The combo has a good brass section (made up of John Grey and Brett Joseph) and plenty of energy that's expended to good effect on "Broken Windows," "Cannibal" and (especially) the almost-nasty "Zestfinger." But the fake reggae of "Greener Grasses" and "Already Found" and the lame rap inserted into "Preserve the Right to Choose" put a damper on the party. There's promise here, but it won't be fulfilled until these guys get a lot further down (available in area record stores). That goes double for Zuba, whose disc, The New Cruelty, makes Midnight Rodeo seem like Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome by comparison. A large part of the problem is the singing of "Lega" Liza, who has more in common with Edie Brickell than with Millie Jackson. But there's also a reticence on the part of the other musicians to dirty their hands; tracks such as "I'd Have to Say (in the Butt Bob)," "To Whom It May Concern," "Universal" and "Future People" reference funk without actually surrendering to it. Only "Imagine Freedom" comes close to being a throwdown. Bootsy Collins would not approve of that ratio (available in area record stores). Considerably more effective is Chitlin's debut CD. The mix could certainly stand to be a bit busier--there's too much air present for a true funk excursion. But saxophonist Ben Senterfit is an instinctive and trenchant player, and the Latin touches (most prominent on "Te Dije") and dips into jazz fusion (on "Theme for Lucy Hatcher") help prevent monotony from setting in. There are weak cuts here--I firmly vote "no" on "Sweet Thing"--but overall, Chitlin showcases a band that understands the joys of funk better than most groovers-come-lately (Chitlin Enterprises, 1085 14th Street, Suite 1009, Boulder 80302).
Junkies for Neighbors bows with a cassette called Preme that's part of the new rapprochement between modern rockers and pop music. "Nothing's Mine" begins in a minor key that soon leads to a chorus larded with soaring harmonies; the guitar figures throughout "I Will Be Here" evoke, of all people, John Fogerty; and "Here's to You (Monday)" concludes with a meaty instrumental section to which the "rocking out" descriptor could be justly applied. It's no work of genius, but it's satisfying enough to get by (Junkies for Neighbors, P.O. Box 481684, Denver 80248-1684). The Trash Hawks come from another tradition--that of the rocking blues. Their CD, Slippin' In, is most enjoyable on those tracks that move fastest--specifically, the title cut and "Spank Me." The vocals, by Paul Niemiec, Jim Pansa and Michael Bowman, leave something to be desired, but that's to be expected. After all, not everyone can sound like Muddy Waters (776-1341).
The singing on Jenipapo Mood, by the Dado Sa Band, also presents a not-inconsequential obstacle for the listener to overcome, at least on the uptempo tunes. Vocalist Dado Sa is far more at ease on the handful of laconic quasi-sambas (like "Will Strikes") that reside on this neo-worldbeat platter than she is during expressly celebratory passages. Unfortunately, the somewhat colorless production mutes the contributions of the background musicians, leaving this Mood feeling a bit flat (Jenipapo Productions, 129 W. Ellsworth Avenue, Denver 80223). James Asher is known primarily as a new-age artist, but Feet in the Soil, on Boulder's New Earth Records, doesn't echo with the sounds of synthesizer washes and cricket chirps. Drumming--sometimes tribal, sometimes not--is at the root of these eleven compositions, which are decorated by the fragmentary vocals of Claudia and Mike Booth. Authentic it's not, but the persistent percussion, keyboard burbles and didgeridoo honks that accent "Pemulwuy," "Ijeilu" and "Send in the Drums" make for an experience that's ambient without seeming opaque (New Earth Records, 154 Betasso Road, Boulder 80302).
In previous reviews of albums by singer-songwriter Dave Potts, I've invoked the name of David Wilcox, and I'm not about to stop with his latest, Music in My Soul. Neither is Potts; in his liner notes, he thanks Wilcox for his "inspiration," which has plainly been considerable. Potts sings songs such as "This Dream Is Mine" in a soothing, tender voice that he accompanies with a softly strummed guitar and (too infrequently) a smattering of percussion. These sympathetic homilies are well-intentioned but almost completely devoid of humor or bite. The definition of "safe" (Northern Lights Productions, 7422 East Costilla Avenue, Englewood 80112). In contrast to Potts's kindly croon, Troy Williams, the lead vocalist for Soak, delivers his words in a gruff voice meant to connote toughness--but on the act's self-titled CD, his manner is too self-conscious to really connect. The songs range from Lively alterna-rock ("Wanna Be") to jangly hook-o-ramas ("Maybe She's Still") and back again, and there's nothing all that wrong with it. If that sounds like the mildest conceivable recommendation, there's a reason for it (available in area record stores).
Grant Rieder of the 'Vengers adds some tasty trumpet to the efforts of Boulder's Fe, a band that exists to play the songs of Geoffrey Muireann. The lyrics Muireann writes are consistently "poetic" (a compliment in some quarters, pejorative in others), but musically they're well-played (by, among others, Danny Shafer), if a tad sleepier than is strictly necessary. "Fe" is about the best of them; its "latun dai dunde dai lada" chorus recalls the days when Simon was still speaking to Garfunkel (Fe, 1705 14th Street, Suite 323, Boulder 80302).
Singer-songwriter Laurie Dameron, whose current demo anticipates a CD being polished even as we speak, is literate and, when the song calls for it, saucy. The former characteristic is evident on "Dying of Human Souls," the most carefully produced of these six selections, while the latter rears its head on "When Will I Ever," on which Dameron is able to hold one's attention with just voice and guitar. Also nice is "They'll Play a Little Samba," which is discreet but alluring. A persuasive sampler (Laurie Dameron, P.O. Box 475, Niwot 80544-0475). I suspect that I'm not the first person on my block to have been given a copy of Helio-Ursinity Now!, by Bears of the Sun. You see, its copyright date is 1993. But it's not quite so out-of-date as it might seem--the driver of the vehicle remains Michael Lorton, whose lyrics are, for the most part, entertainingly twisted. He sometimes falls victim to his own smarts; whereas "My Wrolpher Says" and "Goldilocks Is Everywhere" are winners, "Politically Correct" goes down the tubes before the first verse is done. Also, the music is frequently retro even by 1993 standards--and not in an especially good way, either. By now, though, he's probably entered the Nineties (674-8541).
It's that time again: The early submission deadline for acts wishing to showcase at South by Southwest '97, set to take place March 12-16 in Austin, is October 18. The late submission deadline is November 15--and those acts getting material to fest minions after that date are out of luck. For more information on the fees involved and other assorted flotsam, write SXSW at P.O. Box 4999, Austin, TX 78765, or call 512-467-7979.
Hungry? The Da Vinci String Quartet can feed your head and your stomach simultaneously. On Monday, October 14, the four-piece appears at St. John's Cathedral, 1313 Clarkson Street, at noon; a $4 lunch will be served beginning thirty minutes before showtime. (Brown-baggers can attend for free.) Maurice Ravel is on the musical menu; as for the food, your guess is as good as mine.
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Mmmm-mmmm, good. On Thursday, October 10, Stuart Davis drops by Cricket on the Hill; Mustard Plug seasons the Mercury; and the String Cheese Incident promotes dairy products at the Bluebird Theater. On Friday, October 11, Pete Nalty and the Jinns test-drive material slated for a new CD, at Ziggie's Saloon; Lonnie Brooks frets at Herman's Hideaway; and Abdomen rumbles at Seven South, with the Commerce City Rollers (the same two bands appear the next night at the Lion's Lair). On Saturday, October 12, Trout Fishing in America is on the line for a morning kids' concert at Cameron Church, 1600 S. Pearl; James McMurtry strums at the Mercury; and Shwag, MK Ultra and Bobby Peru crash at Area 39. On Sunday, October 13, Warren Zevon and Chris Whitley are the main attractions at the Bluebird. On Monday, October 14, Orange 9MM goes off at the Fox Theatre, with Local H; and Reel Big Fish, Cherry Poppin' Daddies and Let's Go Bowling strike the Bluebird. And on Wednesday, October 16, Indian Gypsies take a dip in Cosmic Pond at the Edge. Bring your own trunks.
Backbeat's e-mail address is: Michael Roberts@ westword.com