Nowhereland runs a strong hair and beard game. However, the tie-dye, flannel and Simpsons t-shirt feel a little tired.
Congratulations, you got a gig at the Che - Indie/surf rockers Fashion Jackson headlined the first show at UCSD’s Che Café following its 14-month closed-for-remodeling dark period. “It went off,” says the band’s Sterling Gietzen about that sold-out May 11 show.
As of Last Wednesday, May 23, there had been four shows at the new Che Café. Three had sold out the 170-capacity venue.
The appeal of the all-age, booze-free music venue is the same as it ever was: It has its own sound system, and local bands get same-venue association with other past Che headliners such as Green Day, At the Drive-In, and Rise Against.
“I’ve been going to the Che since I was 14,” says Weston Bowers of Oceanside-based trio Nowhereland. “My first show there was Monsters From Mars in 2006.”
He says a Fidlar show he saw at the Che four years later was life changing. “It was the most buck-wild show I had ever seen. It made me want to start up a band.
“One night [Fidlar drummer] Max Keen threw up on stage and passed out,” says Bowers. “They asked the crowd if there were any drummers out there. My friends held up my hand. I got up on stage and started playing on ‘Wake Bake Skate.’ That lasted about ten seconds until one of their friends who knew all their songs replaced me. I stayed onstage and played the cymbals and floor tom. I got my 15 minutes of fame. That show blew my mind. I was there when the Frights opened for Fidlar, which pretty much launched their career.”
Naturally, Bowers wanted his Nowhereland (“Black Sabbath riffs with Violent Femmes vocals”) to play the new Che. He did what you have to do to get a show there: attend the 7 pm Monday night meeting at the Che and make your pitch to the group of “core member” volunteers who run the Che Collective.
“There were about six members of the Che Collective there,” says Bowers. “One person leads the meeting. One person has the calendar. They talked about their finances. I think they said like $2000 in the bank.”
Bowers says there were six bands represented at that Monday meeting looking for a date at the Che. He was pitching a lineup that included his band, Creepseed and Los Feliz. “We got July 14, which is Bastille Day.”
But there was a big catch: in order to actually book a date at the Che you need to convince a member of the Che Collective to agree to show up and represent the collective. That so-called “R.R.” person (Residual Responsibility) shows up to open the doors, make sure everything goes well, and then distributes the door take at the end of the show.
Bowers says of the six hopefuls, only a band called Street Surfers (a high school-aged band from La Mesa) was able to get their date confirmed since a member of the Collective agreed that night to be the R.R. person for their show. “They said, ‘Congratulations Street Surfers, you got a gig,’” Bowers tells the Reader. He says he was told he had two weeks from that May 21 meeting to convince a Che Collective member to serve as an R.R. so his July 14 show could stay on the calendar.
Tickets for the Che Café shows are generally $5 or $7. The take at the end of the night is distributed between the Che and the bands. “All four bands got $211 on our night,” says Fashion Jackson’s Gietzen.
A 12-band, daylong Revenge of the Che Café, celebrating the return of the Che, goes off Saturday, June 2 from 3 to 10 pm.