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Blood, Sweat, and Spit: Memories of Adams Avenue Theater and the Rock Palace

Discount Fabrics on Adams
Discount Fabrics on Adams

Title: The Che Underground

Address: http://cheundergr...">cheunderground.com

Author: Matthew Rothenberg et alia

From: Maplewood, New Jersey

Blogging since: February 2008

Post Title: Then and Now: Adams Avenue Theater

Post Date: August 21, 2008

No one could have imagined that this hallmark of our glory days, the Adams Avenue Theater (3325 Adams Ave.), would metamorphose into something so random as Discount Fabrics. I don’t think it’s so much humiliating as it is simply bizarre. Frankly, I prefer it to the gentrification that has sucked the charm out of other neighborhoods.

No, the humiliation occurred in the late ’80s, during the venue’s brief reincarnation as the Purple Rain Club. Discount Fabrics never remodeled. Outside of the merchandise, everything looks the same as it did. A quarter-century later, shadows still linger, and I can imagine an entryway streaked with the scuff of Doc Martens and cigarette butts; blood, sweat, and spit in the hall; the pit, a cluster of motion, like hornets, swinging fists and bodies, a stage bomb, a swan dive from the balcony...

My first show at Adams Avenue was Iggy Pop with Nash the Slash. I was 16 years old, and the experience was exciting yet terrifying, as if that wild energy would spin out of control at any moment.

I was right up against the stage; Iggy was so close I could have touched him while he sang “Raw Power.” Those were the early days of “Tim Maze Presents.” Dead Kennedys; UK Subs, 45 Grave, GBH, The Cramps (with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Tell-Tale Hearts)...the list goes on. I recall a Lords of the New Church show where Stiv Bators (RIP) got shot with a bb gun. …

It’s a miracle that we survived our youth amidst complaints, coppers, the paddy wagon … riots and broken glass. We used to moan that the community wasn’t supportive. Now grown up with a family of my own, I wouldn’t appreciate drunk people throwing up or fornicating in my yard, either! But I’ve got a sense of humor and consider it karmic payback when people partying wake me up at night....

— Kristen Tobiason

Post Title: Then and Now: Rock Palace

Post Date: September 9, 2008

Someone, somehow, sometime about 1984 or 1985, discovered what must have been an old ballroom above some dingy retail shops on El Cajon Boulevard. [Editor’s note: flyers tell us the address was 3465 El Cajon Blvd.] In its day, it must have been a grand olde place, for it had a really high ceiling, wonderful wooden floors, and this really huge, creaky old stage at one end.

The Rock Palace today

We noticed that a couple of guys were starting to promote rock-’n’-roll concerts there in that grand old ballroom. Dubious? Yes, it reeked of money laundering. Manuel Noriega, the Cali Cartel, some Burmese generals, and the Taliban were probably running the place jointly. Of course, before you could say “Lose sleep, baby, and stay away from bed,” these dudes had demo tapes of various Che Underground bands in their hot little hands, and the era of the Rock Palace was on!!!

My girlfriend at the time lived a miraculous two doors down the street from this place — read “after parties” — and there was a seedy alley in back for underage drinking and planning. There was even a conveyor belt for hauling amps up to the second floor where the stage was. The guys running the place never had a problem with anything we suggested doing there, and a wonderful time was had by all.

The Wallflowers by this time had recruited as many Mexican horn players and percussionists as possible, and we played some startlingly odd stuff in that place, stuff that sounded like the Tijuana Brass meets the Stooges. I remember one night we were having a really good time, and we were really interacting with the audience, and so we asked if they had any good ideas for a song, and Dave Ellison says, “Yeah, how about Sweet Luv’n Doll?” (such a Dave Ellison song title, he was always thinking about chicks), so we played it for about 20 minutes, with timpanis and trumpets and what-not blazing away.

— David Rinck (Wallflowers frontman)

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Discount Fabrics on Adams
Discount Fabrics on Adams

Title: The Che Underground

Address: http://cheundergr...">cheunderground.com

Author: Matthew Rothenberg et alia

From: Maplewood, New Jersey

Blogging since: February 2008

Post Title: Then and Now: Adams Avenue Theater

Post Date: August 21, 2008

No one could have imagined that this hallmark of our glory days, the Adams Avenue Theater (3325 Adams Ave.), would metamorphose into something so random as Discount Fabrics. I don’t think it’s so much humiliating as it is simply bizarre. Frankly, I prefer it to the gentrification that has sucked the charm out of other neighborhoods.

No, the humiliation occurred in the late ’80s, during the venue’s brief reincarnation as the Purple Rain Club. Discount Fabrics never remodeled. Outside of the merchandise, everything looks the same as it did. A quarter-century later, shadows still linger, and I can imagine an entryway streaked with the scuff of Doc Martens and cigarette butts; blood, sweat, and spit in the hall; the pit, a cluster of motion, like hornets, swinging fists and bodies, a stage bomb, a swan dive from the balcony...

My first show at Adams Avenue was Iggy Pop with Nash the Slash. I was 16 years old, and the experience was exciting yet terrifying, as if that wild energy would spin out of control at any moment.

I was right up against the stage; Iggy was so close I could have touched him while he sang “Raw Power.” Those were the early days of “Tim Maze Presents.” Dead Kennedys; UK Subs, 45 Grave, GBH, The Cramps (with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Tell-Tale Hearts)...the list goes on. I recall a Lords of the New Church show where Stiv Bators (RIP) got shot with a bb gun. …

It’s a miracle that we survived our youth amidst complaints, coppers, the paddy wagon … riots and broken glass. We used to moan that the community wasn’t supportive. Now grown up with a family of my own, I wouldn’t appreciate drunk people throwing up or fornicating in my yard, either! But I’ve got a sense of humor and consider it karmic payback when people partying wake me up at night....

— Kristen Tobiason

Post Title: Then and Now: Rock Palace

Post Date: September 9, 2008

Someone, somehow, sometime about 1984 or 1985, discovered what must have been an old ballroom above some dingy retail shops on El Cajon Boulevard. [Editor’s note: flyers tell us the address was 3465 El Cajon Blvd.] In its day, it must have been a grand olde place, for it had a really high ceiling, wonderful wooden floors, and this really huge, creaky old stage at one end.

The Rock Palace today

We noticed that a couple of guys were starting to promote rock-’n’-roll concerts there in that grand old ballroom. Dubious? Yes, it reeked of money laundering. Manuel Noriega, the Cali Cartel, some Burmese generals, and the Taliban were probably running the place jointly. Of course, before you could say “Lose sleep, baby, and stay away from bed,” these dudes had demo tapes of various Che Underground bands in their hot little hands, and the era of the Rock Palace was on!!!

My girlfriend at the time lived a miraculous two doors down the street from this place — read “after parties” — and there was a seedy alley in back for underage drinking and planning. There was even a conveyor belt for hauling amps up to the second floor where the stage was. The guys running the place never had a problem with anything we suggested doing there, and a wonderful time was had by all.

The Wallflowers by this time had recruited as many Mexican horn players and percussionists as possible, and we played some startlingly odd stuff in that place, stuff that sounded like the Tijuana Brass meets the Stooges. I remember one night we were having a really good time, and we were really interacting with the audience, and so we asked if they had any good ideas for a song, and Dave Ellison says, “Yeah, how about Sweet Luv’n Doll?” (such a Dave Ellison song title, he was always thinking about chicks), so we played it for about 20 minutes, with timpanis and trumpets and what-not blazing away.

— David Rinck (Wallflowers frontman)

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Comments
2

That fabric store is a blight - better for an entertainment venue, no doubt. The area lacks some real culture. Lestat's is trying but the old theater building is prime real estate.

Oct. 2, 2013

Shirley: We have bought stuff there. What's so bad about it?

Oct. 2, 2013

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