Will the March 16 show headlined by local reggae band Stranger be the last show ever at Sound Wave (formerly Canes)?
No shows are being booked at the 700-capacity beachfront venue after that date. The seven-acre Belmont Park complex, including Sound Wave and the Wave House (but not including the roller coaster), is up for sale for $12 million. And there is no indication that the room that once hosted such artists as Prince, Snoop Dogg, Linkin Park, and the Black Crowes will be brought back as a music venue once it is sold.
Underscoring that is the fact that Canes founder Eric Leitstein was recently asked to come back and tour the venue he operated for 13 years. He was squeezed out in 2010 when Tom Lochtefeld (who held the master lease for the Belmont Park complex) took over Canes and renamed it Sound Wave. Lochtefeld also owned the pay-to-surf Wave House hangout/bar next door but had not operated a music venue before. Leitstein was hoping that he could work out an arrangement with Lochtefeld to stay but ended up being kicked out of his own bar.
Lochtefeld has filed for bankruptcy, and now the City of San Diego, which owns the Belmont Park property, is looking to sell the complex.
Ken Krasne is the Los Angeles–based court-appointed trustee hired to oversee the operation of Belmont Park during this transition. He says he does not speak to the press about the properties he oversees. Tim Winslow, one of the agents involved in the sale of the property through Cassidy Turley BRE in La Jolla, says he can only divulge details to individuals after they have been vetted with a nondisclosure agreement.
Leitstein says Krasne invited him to consider operating Canes on a short-term basis. He has declined comment about whether he will return.
Chris Cox, the general manager of Sound Wave and Wave House, says no shows will be booked at Sound Wave after the Stranger show, which was booked by Shane Berry, who booked the room from early 2008 until September 2010. Since leaving Sound Wave as an employee, Berry has since brought in headliners as an independent promoter. Berry has moved to Boulder, Colorado, but says he plans to bring in headliners at 4th&B or House of Blues in the future.
Can Canes come back? Berry is more optimistic than others. “It’s a great room in a great location with plenty of free parking. But it would definitely take the right person to do it.”
A different insider says that without Leitstein, it would be hard to bring back Canes as a major-name showcase.
“Leitstein was the only one who got the formula right,” says the insider. “There are too many moving parts for someone who doesn’t know that room.” He says a chain like Dave & Buster’s or Bubba Gump’s may be interested, but without a major operator such as Live Nation or AEG, “It would be difficult for an independent person to make that place work as a music venue. AEG already has a small venue with Humphrey’s, and Live Nation has House of Blues. Neither of those companies feel the need for another small room. Live Nation used to have 4th&B and House of Blues, but they gave up 4th&B because they just didn’t need a second room. And when the Casbah needs a larger room, they tend to use the Belly Up. Besides, it is my understanding that there are so many hits on that liquor license, that if someone were to buy that license, it appears they would be in jeopardy right off the bat.... And, I think this will be the last summer you see the Wave House in Mission Beach.”