What was supposed to be a May 2 benefit show at the Rock & Roll Grill (1531 Champa Street), one of downtown's two all-ages venues, ended up more of a melee that left a huge hole in the stage — and lots of hard feelings.
An online shouting match broke out on the Denver Message Board after one Mitchell Sprinsky of Stifler's Mom, which had hosted the benefit show for Sox Place, wrote about how the club's staff had been rude. He also shared his distaste for the club's downstairs stage:
"Because we are a little hyper, we tend to bounce around a lot. Our bass player ended up falling through the stage. He's lucky he didn't break his ankle but it left a nice hole. Apparently there was a piece of plywood that was supposed to be on top of the weak area. No one told us that. The stage was made out of particleboard, which is just begging for a disaster, and there were many areas that seemed to be patched. With the hole through it, it was easy to tell it was not cross-beamed."
But Aaron Rodgers, Rock & Roll's doorman, claims he alerted the bands to the hole, which was covered by a big piece of wood — until Stifler's Mom moved it. "There was a small hole there, and they stomped in a bigger hole," Rodgers says. "It looked like somebody just ran and jumped and did a cannonball into the stage. We asked them what happened. And all a sudden they came up with a story, 'Well, our guitarist, he's hurt now.' They only brought that up when we were like, 'Hey, our stage is damaged. Somebody needs to come and fix this. What are we going to do about it?' They all just got shy and quiet and kind of took off. They didn't even ask for their money. They just took off after the show."
According to Brian Robertson, the club's owner, a speaker was also damaged that night and food was taken from the kitchen. "When I wrote to the guys from Stifler's Mom explaining all the things they had done to my place," Robertson says, "they wrote back and said, 'Well, what do you expect us to do? How do you expect us to act? We're a punk band.'"
"We had seven bands. Some of them are borderline punk. None of them are rough people. None of them tear places apart," Sprinsky responds. "This was a really behaved, good crowd, despite some of the look of the kids there. They dressed punk for the night and they were having a good time. But nobody was doing anything destructive. And I would guarantee you that I would never allow it. I would be the first one to call the police to take them out of there."
Because it was a benefit, Robertson says he let the guys in Stifler's Mom book the music. "I don't usually do that on a Friday night, because that's what pays the bills," he adds. "It was planned a long time ago. I let them have a little run of the place. They started tearing down the posters. They trashed my place big time."
Sin, the singer of Primasonic, which was on the bill that night, had his own problems with Rodgers. "We feel like he kind of double-crossed us," he says. "He was pretty rude and whatnot. The other thing that pissed me off was that we thought it was kind of shady that an $8 cover miraculously turned into a $10 cover. That was kind of messed up, since it's hard enough to get people to pay $8."
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"When we feel disrespected," Rodgers responds, "we're not going to treat you with the same respect. I definitely felt disrespect by Stifler's Mom. They instantly came in and told me what my job and my responsibility was, and my responsibility was to accommodate them. But at the same time, I'm supposed to follow the direction of the owner. He tells who can come in and who can't."
This is the first major incident at the club since it opened two and a half years ago, Robertson says. And while it's still undetermined who will pay for the repairs, the biggest loser is already clear: Sox Place, which didn't get anything from the night.
Club scout: Eric Gunnison, one of the city's finest jazz keyboardists, just started a Thursday-night residency at Dazzle (930 Lincoln Street) with Wake Up Call, his new project that's a post-fusion mix of rock and jazz. The group, which is in the vein of Weather Report, also features drummer Mike Marlier and bassist Mark Simon. The music starts at 10:30 p.m.; there's a $5 cover and $3 "You-Name-It" Bacardi drink specials. DJ Vajra, who's done gigs with A Tribe Called Quest, the Roots and De La Soul, just kicked off a weekly Saturday residency at Brix (3000 East Third Avenue) in Cherry Creek. Finally, Spill (1410 Market Street) has extended its happy hour on Thursdays, when you can get $2 domestic beers and $4 call and well drinks until 11 p.m. The club also hosts a happy hour from 4 to 9 p.m. every Friday, with $2 Miller Lite bottles, $4 calls and wells, and the Miller Girls on the rooftop patio.