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Casbah turns 30 with weeks-long celebration

Pivotal local acts from the ’70s through ’90s will stage rare reunions

Tim Mays has reconvened local acts to celebrate the venue’s three decades. - Image by Jay Allen Sanford
Tim Mays has reconvened local acts to celebrate the venue’s three decades.

Countless local bands made their first mark at 2812 Kettner, the original Casbah locale opened in 1989 with fixtures purchased from a defunct Farrell’s ice cream parlor that for some reason sported at least one leather-padded wall. Co-founder Tim Mays had already spent years promoting area concerts, bringing in headliners that he paired with rising local acts he felt worthy of the valuable experience and exposure. He continued to favor local openers after the Casbah abandoned its inaugural address (later occupied by Velvet) in 1994 and put up the padded wall at its current 220-plus capacity venue. Mays is booking an encyclopedic array of pivotal local acts from the ’70s through ’90s for a 30th anniversary celebration running from January into February, many of them staging rare reunions for the occasion.

Past Event

Hot Snakes

  • Friday, January 4, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $30

John Reis spent many nights at the Casbah fronting Rocket From the Crypt, Drive Like Jehu, Pitchfork, and the Night Marchers. His (temporarily?) reconvened Hot Snakes, with Pitchfork/Jehu bandmate Rick Froberg, will play January 4.

Past Event

Chinchilla and Uncle Joe's Big Ol' Driver

  • Saturday, January 5, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $15

The following night finds 1990s all-girl math-metal band Chinchilla reuniting to perform tracks from their lone 1996 full-length, 101 Italian Hits. They had several well regarded EPs and singles, especially “Batman” which received enough southern California airplay to qualify as a regional hit. Members have also played with Crash Worship, the Cliks, Liquid Sunshine, and Maquiladora.

The same January 5 show includes a reunion of 1990s rockers Uncle Joe’s Big Ol’ Driver, whose lineup has featured members of Soul Asylum and the Presidents of the United States of America.

Past Event

The Dragons and Drip Tank

  • Friday, January 11, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $16 - $18

January 11 features a reunion of influential punk band the Dragons, so respected that the August 2015 tribute concert for their late bassist Steve Rodriguez included a surprise performance by occasional Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley. The bill includes 1980s punk group Drip Tank, best remembered for performing in the parking lots of every San Diego 7-Eleven store (around 50 in 1990) over a single day.

Past Event

The Penetrators

  • Friday, January 18, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $25

Singer Gary Heffern is flying in from Finland for a January 18 Penetrators reunion. It's their first time back together at the Casbah since a January 2014 set.

Past Event

Gary Heffern's Last Waltz

  • Monday, January 28, 2019, 7 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $12 - $15

Heffern will take the stage again on the 28th for a solo gig opened by the first performance of the Dils since the passing of co-founder Tony Kinman, and an opening set by reunited 70s punk stalwarts the Executives.

Past Event

Pinback and Swollen Brains

  • Wednesday, January 23, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $26

It’s been a half dozen years since Pinback's last full-length (though there was an EP collection last year, Some Offcell Voices), but Rob Crow and Zach Smith will reconvene the group in Little Italy on January 23 and 24. The first bill includes Swollen Brains, while the following night will be opened by Montalban Quintet.

Past Event

Buck-O-Nine and the Downs Family

  • Saturday, January 26, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $15

The January 26 show is headlined by 1990s ska rockers Buck-O-Nine, who late last year released their first new music in around a decade. That bill includes the Downs Family and Unsteady.

Past Event

No Knife and Buckfast Superbee

  • Sunday, January 27, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $20

The following night, January 27, features a reunion of 1990s hard rockers No Knife, who last played the Casbah in 2015, along with Miss New Buddha (who recently recorded their debut full-length at their drummer Trevor LeVieux’s home studio), Buckfast Superbee (known to go nearly a decade between new recordings), and Systems Officer featuring Armistead Burwell Smith IV - AKA Zach Smith (Pinback, Three Mile Pilot).

Past Event

Louis XIV

  • Friday, February 15, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $25

Jason Hill has been busy scoring films and TV shows like Netflix's 1970s-set series Mindhunter, while Brian Karscig and Mark Maigaard have been touring and recording with the Nervous Wreckords. Their former glam band Louis XIV (once named by Rolling Stone among "10 Artists To Watch in 2005") still stages occasional reunions, however, with the next one set for the Casbah 30 show on February 15.

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Tim Mays has reconvened local acts to celebrate the venue’s three decades. - Image by Jay Allen Sanford
Tim Mays has reconvened local acts to celebrate the venue’s three decades.

Countless local bands made their first mark at 2812 Kettner, the original Casbah locale opened in 1989 with fixtures purchased from a defunct Farrell’s ice cream parlor that for some reason sported at least one leather-padded wall. Co-founder Tim Mays had already spent years promoting area concerts, bringing in headliners that he paired with rising local acts he felt worthy of the valuable experience and exposure. He continued to favor local openers after the Casbah abandoned its inaugural address (later occupied by Velvet) in 1994 and put up the padded wall at its current 220-plus capacity venue. Mays is booking an encyclopedic array of pivotal local acts from the ’70s through ’90s for a 30th anniversary celebration running from January into February, many of them staging rare reunions for the occasion.

Past Event

Hot Snakes

  • Friday, January 4, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $30

John Reis spent many nights at the Casbah fronting Rocket From the Crypt, Drive Like Jehu, Pitchfork, and the Night Marchers. His (temporarily?) reconvened Hot Snakes, with Pitchfork/Jehu bandmate Rick Froberg, will play January 4.

Past Event

Chinchilla and Uncle Joe's Big Ol' Driver

  • Saturday, January 5, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $15

The following night finds 1990s all-girl math-metal band Chinchilla reuniting to perform tracks from their lone 1996 full-length, 101 Italian Hits. They had several well regarded EPs and singles, especially “Batman” which received enough southern California airplay to qualify as a regional hit. Members have also played with Crash Worship, the Cliks, Liquid Sunshine, and Maquiladora.

The same January 5 show includes a reunion of 1990s rockers Uncle Joe’s Big Ol’ Driver, whose lineup has featured members of Soul Asylum and the Presidents of the United States of America.

Past Event

The Dragons and Drip Tank

  • Friday, January 11, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $16 - $18

January 11 features a reunion of influential punk band the Dragons, so respected that the August 2015 tribute concert for their late bassist Steve Rodriguez included a surprise performance by occasional Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley. The bill includes 1980s punk group Drip Tank, best remembered for performing in the parking lots of every San Diego 7-Eleven store (around 50 in 1990) over a single day.

Past Event

The Penetrators

  • Friday, January 18, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $25

Singer Gary Heffern is flying in from Finland for a January 18 Penetrators reunion. It's their first time back together at the Casbah since a January 2014 set.

Past Event

Gary Heffern's Last Waltz

  • Monday, January 28, 2019, 7 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $12 - $15

Heffern will take the stage again on the 28th for a solo gig opened by the first performance of the Dils since the passing of co-founder Tony Kinman, and an opening set by reunited 70s punk stalwarts the Executives.

Past Event

Pinback and Swollen Brains

  • Wednesday, January 23, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $26

It’s been a half dozen years since Pinback's last full-length (though there was an EP collection last year, Some Offcell Voices), but Rob Crow and Zach Smith will reconvene the group in Little Italy on January 23 and 24. The first bill includes Swollen Brains, while the following night will be opened by Montalban Quintet.

Past Event

Buck-O-Nine and the Downs Family

  • Saturday, January 26, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $15

The January 26 show is headlined by 1990s ska rockers Buck-O-Nine, who late last year released their first new music in around a decade. That bill includes the Downs Family and Unsteady.

Past Event

No Knife and Buckfast Superbee

  • Sunday, January 27, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $20

The following night, January 27, features a reunion of 1990s hard rockers No Knife, who last played the Casbah in 2015, along with Miss New Buddha (who recently recorded their debut full-length at their drummer Trevor LeVieux’s home studio), Buckfast Superbee (known to go nearly a decade between new recordings), and Systems Officer featuring Armistead Burwell Smith IV - AKA Zach Smith (Pinback, Three Mile Pilot).

Past Event

Louis XIV

  • Friday, February 15, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $25

Jason Hill has been busy scoring films and TV shows like Netflix's 1970s-set series Mindhunter, while Brian Karscig and Mark Maigaard have been touring and recording with the Nervous Wreckords. Their former glam band Louis XIV (once named by Rolling Stone among "10 Artists To Watch in 2005") still stages occasional reunions, however, with the next one set for the Casbah 30 show on February 15.

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