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Riff Raff 

Wednesday, Feb 17 1999
Party Over, Oops, Out of Time San Francisco is losing another all-night dance venue. V/SF, located at the mouth of SOMA's 11th Street corridor, will surrender its 24-hour cabaret license this Sunday to fulfill a bargain struck with police and the state Alcohol Beverage Control Department to keep the club open.

As previously reported in Riff Raff, the part of SOMA around V/SF is ground zero of an ongoing battle between club owners, who feel harassed for exercising their right to operate, and their live-work loft neighbors, who say clubs ruin their quality of life with excessive noise and disorderly patrons. Two months ago the clubs lost big: Police received the 19th noise complaint against V/SF in a six-month period and revoked the club's permits. According to Officer Rose Myer, all SOMA clubs operate under a conditional permit, which allows the SFPD to restrict both the noise levels emanating from the club, and, in this case, the times at which V/SF's retractable ceiling could be opened. "They were in violation on both of these counts," says Myer. "We then proceeded to confer with the ABC to shut the club down entirely."

On Jan. 2, both agencies, as part of an ongoing joint investigation into noise complaints, slapped club owner Kevin Murphy with a 40-day suspension of both his liquor license and his dance hall permit. In order to prevent these permits from being revoked, Murphy agreed to forfeit his 24-hour cabaret license. According to the ABC's supervising investigator, Andrew Gomez, the club is lucky to be operating at all. "This is a light sentence," he says. "We had enough violations on record to permanently shut the place down."

Murphy did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Despite the club's imminent reopening -- now with a 2 a.m. closing time -- the effects of losing its 24-hour cabaret license will be big in a city that prides itself on its status as a mecca for wee-hours DJ culture. Police are no longer issuing cabaret permits; in the last two years the department has revoked four after-hour permits, including those of the Trocadero Transfer and DV8. That leaves SOMA's Sound Factory, EndUp, and 177 Townsend as the only spaces where promoters can legally book late-night parties.

There was one proposed solution to the bitter fighting: Supervisor Gavin Newsom promised legislation to turn the area surrounding the 11th Street corridor into a protected entertainment district. But the shake-up at V/SF -- and the lack of legislation on the Board of Supervisors' agenda -- made us wonder whether Newsom had moved forward on his plan.

Newsom says he's proceeding, but slowly. "The initial proposal was a means to get the two sides talking and begin a reconciliation process," he says. "Out of mutual respect, I wanted to address the concerns of both the neighbors and club owners before submitting a final draft to the board."

The legislation is significantly different in scope from the original draft, says Newsom, but its tenets are nearly the same. The proposed district has been expanded to include protection for small businesses and artists from loft development. Other changes include creating a subdistrict for the 11th Street corridor that eliminates ground-level residential or live-work space, and establishing standardized noise levels (through a third-party sound engineer) for businesses that will fit into a good-neighbor policy.

Newsom is optimistic. "The two sides are still debating the appropriate noise levels, but we're really close to an agreement," he says. "There are a few neighbors that feel clubs shouldn't operate in the area, but overall I think most will agree to this legislation." (Robert Arriaga)

Rock Math On Feb. 8 at Slim's, "Punk Rock Karaoke" pulled in members of the audience to sing oldies (yup, punk songs are "oldies" now) with Bad Religion's Greg Hetson, NOFX's Eric Melvin, Social Distortion's Derek O'Brian, and the Minutemen's Mike Watt. From the fellow who knocked Stiff Little Fingers' "Alternative Ulster" to the closing scrappy take on the Circle Jerks' "Wild in the Streets," the breakdown:

Total songs: 31
Pogoing?: nope
Gobbing?: yup

Number of audience members expressing respect for, adulation of, and undying fealty to Mike Watt: approximately 15

Number of audience members expressing respect for, adulation of, and fealty to Greg Hetson: 1

Mohawk hairstyles in attendance: 2 (Spiky: 1; Non-spiky: 1)
Punk songs written by women sung by women: 2 (X-Ray Spex's "Oh Bondage Up Yours," the Runaways' "Cherry Bomb")

Punk songs written by women sung by men: 1 (The Go-Go's "We Got the Beat")
Status of "We Got the Beat" as an actual punk song: questionable. (Mark Athitakis)

Flash! Steve Albini Has a Sense of Humor! While we were in the midst of tracking down Kevin Dabbs, who now and probably forever will be known as the star of the air-drumming tape sold in the city as Metallica Drummer!, we caught wind of rumor that one of its biggest fans was Steve Albini. Now, odds are that if you're any sort of rock fan, Albini's had a hand in something you've heard; in addition to playing in and producing about 5 billion indie bands out of his Chicago studio (including locals like Pansy Division and Oxbow), he twisted the knobs for CDs by Bush, Nirvana, and that Page-Plant thing we're trying to forget about.

Ever the firebrand and a good source for a cranky comment about music, we dropped him a line to ask about his personal relationship with Metallica Drummer! His response came too late to appear in the resulting article ("Air Canada," Jan. 27), but makes for an amusing read in its own right:

[I] just watched it again tonight. It seems every band that comes through the doors here at the studio wants to see it, and nobody is ever disappointed. It's like the Zapruder film -- you can't examine it too closely.

It bothers me a little that the guy is actually a drummer. It would be slightly more impressive if he was only interested in perfecting his air drumming.

With the Canadian journalism world now expressing interest -- we got a call from the Toronto Star recently -- we promise more updates as we find them. (M.A.)

Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.


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