High Tide singer-guitarist Ed Barrena thinks his reggae band may be the last band to play at Canes. High Tide was loading out its gear after playing for some 600 fans last Friday when a fire broke out in the club’s kitchen.
“We had just walked out to the car with our gear and we looked up and saw flames shoot up 15 feet from the top of the roof. I said, ‘Holy shit, the roof is on fire, we have to get our shit right now.’
“Then the fire trucks got there. It was like it was out of a movie. Firefighters with axes were running by. One of my buddies who was there shooting us got footage [of the fire]. He sold it to Channel 8.”
Authorities estimate a total of $2 million in damages to the building and its contents. High Tide, however, got all their gear out unscathed.
“Apparently it was a grease fire from the kitchen. That’s what they said it was. It went up the flue and got onto the roof. But my girl said she and her friends could smell fire earlier, before we even played. We had a half-hour set.... Because of all the issues that Canes has, we wonder if we were the last band to ever play [there].”
Insiders say that the lease between Canes owner Eric Leitstein and landlord Tom Lochtefeld is about to expire and that no shows are booked at Canes after September. Lochtefeld owns the Belmont Park complex that houses Canes and the 1100-capacity WaveHouse, which has been presenting national artists during summer months. De La Soul, Reel Big Fish, and Gregory Isaacs are booked to play WaveHouse this summer.
Calls to Lochtefeld’s office were not returned. On July 15 a call to Leitstein drew this response: “This is a not a good time. Call back next week.”
Matthew Hydar, an inspector with the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, says that his agency along with SDPD officers did a facility walkthrough at Canes with the owners of the WaveHouse. He says his department went over the options available to serve alcohol under the new ownership. “But so far they have yet to put an application in,” he said on July 15. “And I explained to them that with the State right now, things do not move quickly and that the sooner they turn in an application, the better off they would be.”
Leitstein has intimated that he may move his liquor license from Canes to another venue. Hydar says that though that is a possibility, Leitstein has yet to apply to move his license to another address.
“I really like Canes,” says High Tide’s Barrena. “Some people don’t like their security. They aren’t exactly customer-service oriented. But they have a lot of major acts that come through there. Local bands get to connect with national bands. Hopefully it doesn’t close down. We’ve been playing there for four years. We’ve always done good business there.”