“There is no single person who has the juice to book major acts [at 4th&B],” says an insider who suggests that the 1500-capacity venue has created the best business plan it could, considering the competition; unlike the Belly Up, House of Blues, or ’Canes, 4th&B will not have its own in-house talent buyer or promotion staff. It is now a for-rent venue, available to outside promoters who are willing to pay rental, security, and production costs up front. The house will keep all receipts from the bar, while the renter gets the door.
The insider speculates that 4th&B owner Ali Nilforushan may see the arrival of the Hard Rock Café’s new 800-seat venue as increased competition, prompting him to step back from the financial commitment required to promote shows.
“I hear [Hard Rock Café has] already booked Black Eyed Peas,” says the source. “The Hard Rock will get a lot of major-name acts, and that’s just one more competitor.” (House of Blues is a block away from 4th&B.)
4th&B general manager Harlteen Stamps Jr. says AEG, Live Nation, and radio station KIFM have booked the venue to host shows by such artists as Blake Shelton, Richard Elliot, and Bob Saget.
“We just had Legendas de Banda and Rodrigo y Gabriela [which were booked by independent promoters],” says Stamps. “Those shows were packed.”
Regarding the club’s past success booking Latin artists and DJ headliners, Stamps says, “The market has become pretty crowded. DJs or promoters who might be looking to come here might think that if they come here and we do 300 or 400, the place looks pretty empty.” He says the much smaller On Broadway or Stingaree are now the DJ destination venues of choice, but he would welcome dance or electronica promoters.
— Ken Leighton
Grammy Slammy As I Lay Dying’s song “Nothing Left” earned a 2008 Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance. One band member refused to attend the February 10 ceremony, while the others decided to go.
“I am not able to have even my wife come with me unless I pay $600 for her seat,” posted singer Tim Lambesis on the band’s blog a few days before the ceremony. “Our label, management, and parents can’t go unless they pay $300 for seats that are nowhere near where we sit. Basically, all the people that deserve to enjoy this ‘special’ moment along with the band are unable to do so.…
“Not only is some out-of-touch elite committee telling us what they think good music should be, but then they try to make the artists they nominate pay a ridiculous amount for the event.…”
Guitarist Nick Hipa attended, posting this explanation on his blog:
“I don’t think it’s right to demonize the Grammy society. They’re not telling us what is and isn’t good music, I think they’re casting votes on who is doing what they do well, or maybe standing out the most. Now, obviously they all don’t know much about metal, because I can’t think of a single awesome thing [co-nominees] King Diamond or Slayer did this year.
“I do think it’s unfortunate that we would have to pay such large amounts of money to bring guests.… I understand Tim’s reasoning not to go, our opinions on the matter differ, but I harbor no ill-will or bitterness towards him. Only respect for standing by his convictions.”
Slayer won the Best Metal Performance Grammy.
— Jay Allen Sanford
Fing and a Prayer Fing, a North Park electronic/funk/rock band, released their 11-song CD Making Love with Fear last year. The insert features a photo of each band member, including bassist James Balmer, who is pictured in a hospital bed.
“I met James at the ashram at Pacific Beach,” says lead singer Pascal Dickinson. “He was a Hare Krishna devotee. He lived there for three years. We both worked at Dr. Jefe’s [piercing studio] from 1999 to 2000.”
The two played in a local rap-core band named Swan. Dickinson decided he was finished with the Tool school of rock in 2005 and formed Fing with guitarist Brannon Blosser. Bassist Balmer followed Dickinson. After a December 2006 Fing show at the Alibi, life changed for Balmer and Dickinson.
“These two girls asked if they could get a ride home with James and I. We said sure. I asked Angie if she wanted to sit in the front and she said no.… We took the off-ramp from north 163 near Washington Street. I think there was some confusion whether we should take 8 east or 8 west. We hit a dip, and the car started spinning.”
The accident left the other female passenger with minor injuries. “It killed Angie.… It gave me a concussion and a severe whiplash.… It put James in a coma for 18 days. He suffered axon shearing; that’s where your brain twists inside. It sheared nerve endings that control his motor skills. They thought he was going to die.”
Balmer recuperated at Sharp Cabrillo Skilled Nursing Center for six months before moving to his parents’ house in San Marcos.
“His speech is severely inhibited. It’s hard for him to pronounce words sometimes.… He comes down and stays with me on weekends. We’re planning on him moving in with my girlfriend and I when he gets a little better.”
On February 11, Balmer was sentenced for his involvement in the accident.
“He pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter. He received a $10,000 fine, three years’ probation, and 500 hours of community service. They don’t consider him a flight risk.”
Dickinson says part of the accident report was not true.
“The CHP reported that he had above a .08 alcohol reading, but they never tested him. They just wrote it in there. Neither he nor I drank that night. They found THC in his system from two weeks earlier, when he was in Amsterdam.”
Dickinson says Balmer cowrote songs on the CD.
“He recorded all the bass lines before the accident.… People don’t know what is up with that picture [on the CD art]. I wanted him to know…his spot in the band is reserved for him until he says he can’t or won’t resume the position.”
Fing (myspace.com/fingband) appears April 19 at Soma.
— Ken Leighton
The Generous GOP Before playing a recent show at Schubas in Chicago, Grand Ole Party stopped their tour van in Rock Island, Illinois, to record an informal session at Daytrotter’s studio. Daytrotter.com is enjoying a growth spurt after taking on a new majority partner who runs wolfgangsvault.com, the Internet database offering thousands of performances taped by late concert promoter Bill Graham.
Daytrotter attracts around 25,000 visitors daily and has provided over two million downloads. In the company’s third-story studio above a pizza parlor, Grand Ole Party performed “Dirty Spirit Rag,” “Look Out Young Son,” and two other songs. Other locals among the 200 or so bands who’ve performed Daytrotter sessions include Delta Spirit, Raymond Raposa of Castanets, and Rafter Roberts.
Bands don’t sign contracts with Daytrotter; the agreements are oral, with no money involved. The website hosts the sessions, but performers own the recordings and all reproduction rights to them…after they’ve been posted on Daytrotter.com for four months.
Daytrotter’s new majority partner (53 percent) is Bill Sagan, who paid five to six million dollars for the Bill Graham archives in 2003. His wolfgangsvault.com website is being sued by Carlos Santana, surviving members of the Doors, Led Zeppelin, and others over alleged trademark and copyright transgressions.
— Jay Allen Sanford
On the Soggy Ground Floor August Christman doesn’t understand why he keeps “hitting a brick wall” as he organizes all-age shows under the name Skank Out Productions. Christman, 23, says that his bands — mostly local ska — draw big hassle-free crowds.
“We always sell out Soma [side stage]. Our last show there [January 29 with the Toasters and Buck-O-Nine] had 50 people waiting outside to get in.” Christman says the usual financial arrangement is one dollar a head, which is split up between the bands he brings in. (“Bands are willing to play for next to nothing for the exposure.”)
“I’ve done shows at the Hot Monkey Love Café [near SDSU], but that place is pretty touch-and-go, as far as sound complaints. They have a neighbor who keeps complaining, so they asked everyone to start playing acoustic [after 10 p.m.].” (Calls to Hot Monkey Love were not returned.)
Although Christman says his shows do well at Mira Mesa’s all-age Epicentre (where bands get two dollars per ticket sold), he says, “…every time I’ve had a problem with the staff. If you go out to smoke, they won’t let you back in. Once, they gave me a date; I booked the bands and made posters and they canceled it. I asked them why and they said it was because we didn’t have contracts signed. I tried for days to come by and get them signed.” (Facility manager Jerry Figueroa said he was not aware of specifics about that canceled show.)
Christman says he found a way around the red tape and big expenses that usually discourage promoters from doing shows at UCSD.
“When you hook up with a school organization that will sponsor you, you’re golden. We hooked up with a club called One Earth One Justice. They let us do an outdoor show January 18. We had a band called Deal’s Gone Bad from Chicago who were on tour, and they just needed a place to play, so they played for free.
“It had just rained all week. I was worried about having all the electrical equipment on damp grass. I went around on my skateboard and grabbed 30 of those mats they put in front of classrooms, rolled them up, and cruised down the hill with them. We put them on the grass and used them as our stage. Because the show was part of the Party with a Purpose event on campus, the sound system and the lights were supposed to be powered by solar panels and bicycles. We got the bicycles to power one light. We ended up plugging in to outlets.”
— Ken Leighton
Eat It, Drink It When Marilyn Manson appears at the House of Blues on Monday, February 25, “All personnel stationed in areas requiring light should possess a working flashlight, none to exceed eight inches in length…under no circumstances is a flashlight to be used as a weapon.”
Dressing-room requirements for Marilyn Manson himself include a fruit tray (“strawberries and watermelon”), a bag of Doritos (“white corn”), a jar of Pace salsa (“medium”), French onion dip (“fresh from deli, if possible”), two packs of Dentyne Ice gum (“peppermint and spearmint”), and two bags of Haribo Gummi Bears. Drinks: a six-pack of Hansen’s cherry vanilla soda, a bottle of champagne (“Cristal, Moët”), and five assorted Kool-Aid packs (“sweetened”).
The band bus requires a dozen bottles each of Smirnoff Black Ice and imported beer (“no Heineken”), a box each of Pop Tarts and Nature Valley Oatmeal Raisin Bars, an assortment of Hostess cakes (“Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, Twinkies, etc.”), and a large Camembert cheese. (From thesmokinggun.com)
— Jay Allen Sanford