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Riff Raff 

Wednesday, Feb 19 1997
Rumors of Demise For several months now rumors regarding the state of financial affairs at the Trocadero have been flying. Of course, talk of audits and bankruptcy are nothing new in the club biz, but when the talk gets passed along to booking agencies -- like, say, the Atomic Music Group, which is responsible for the Reverend Horton Heat's upcoming tour -- things can get a little bit more touchy. "I'm really pissed off that this keeps coming up," says Dick Colier, owner of the Trocadero for the last 19 years. "We are not filing for bankruptcy! In fact, nothing could be further from the truth." As was printed in the San Francisco Business Times, a $10,000 lien was placed on the Trocadero earlier this year after an IRS audit opened books going back to 1993. According to Colier, a lien amounts to very little in the greater scheme of the San Francisco nightclub scene. "Clubs get audited all the time," he says matter-of-factly. "We owed on sales and employee taxes, but most of it has been paid off already. Our books are very clean." Apparently most of the "oversights" occurred last year while Colier was back East undergoing treatment for renal failure. "Most of the bills were paid while I was away," says Colier, "but I'm not stepping five feet from this place again." Considering the Troc's history, this minor setback is nothing. In the mid-'80s, the club, which then catered to a largely gay clientele, was nearly wiped out with the onset of AIDS. "Those were bad times. I didn't file for bankruptcy then," Colier stresses, "and I am certainly not going to file for bankruptcy now. You've heard it from the horse's mouth." (Silke Tudor)

Mad Science The Fillmore, one of S.F.'s oldest and most stalwart rock clubs, opened its doors Saturday night to the city's burgeoning underground electronic scene. Electronic music and DJs are notorious for eschewing rock trappings, and the setup at the Fillmore said as much. The DJ booth was sequestered in the back of the room; three video screens blared visual mind candy alongside the west wall; and a massive multimedia projection provided the stage with a backdrop. Throughout the evening, nary an artist appeared up front. That space was reserved instead for a massive mechanical contraption: supposedly, the world's second-largest tesla coil. Just after midnight, electronic artist Austin Richards threw the switch. The monstrosity spat searing lightning bolts between steel rods for approximately five seconds before blowing one of the Fillmore's fuses. Concerned "Fillmore Sessions" promoter Joe Paganelli ran to the man behind the machine, asking if he could "tell him more" about the infernal device. According to Paganelli, the would-be engineer answered with an artist's passion: "What do you want to know? It's never been outside of the physics lab." (Jeff Stark)

BS in Europe? Groovy Afro-Mexican-punk-disco outfit Baby Snufkin has landed a European tour with No Doubt and is scheduled to leave Feb. 28. Says Snufkin's enthused frontman/manager, Scrote, "It's like coming to America with the Beatles. [No Doubt] just broke over there, and they're huge." Last summer, a Baby Snufkin demo made it into the hands of ND vocalist Gwen Stefani while she was backstage at the Shoreline (Scrote has his ways). Unfortunately -- or fortunately -- for the band, the tape did not remain in her hands for long. John Dumont (brother of No Doubt guitarist Tom Dumont and bass player for the Bay Area's Salamander) stole the tape and became a Snufkin fan. Dumont -- John, not Tom -- began attending Snufkin shows with longtime friend and Salamander cohort Darrell Grey. When BSfound themselves in need of a bass player and a drummer for their next European tour, both Dumont and Grey signed up. They were affectionately dubbed with BS monikers -- "Bert" and "Ernesto," respectively. It was soon after that that No Doubt requested the band for tour support. Big surprise. "No Doubt could have chosen anyone they wanted," says a happy Scrote, "and they chose us. Teeny-boppers, beware!" (S.T.)

Bust'd Rumors abound regarding a recent disrupted screening of Gridlock'd, the posthumous Tupac Shakur actioner, at the Kabuki. A friend of ours went to see Fierce Creatures, only to find chaos and a phalanx of police outside the theater. She overheard a staffer telling someone a gun had gone off inside the theater. Another friend heard that a screening had been halted after some kids were found smoking crack inside the auditorium. Kabuki Senior Manager Jonathan Larson says that the truth is slightly different. "There was nothing violent," he says. "Some people were smoking dope, and we had to cancel the show. They lit up, and we're proactive about things like that." If the smoking is an isolated incident, Larson says, "we go in and ask them to put it out"; but a "high percentage" of tokers at the Wednesday evening screening prompted management to call police and eventually cancel the showing. Customers had their money refunded. Incidentally, while the late Shakur's performance got some de-cent reviews, it's doubtful the movie would have made him a film star. Even with the publicity accompanying his violent death, Gridlock'd did less than boffo box office; three weeks after its release, it's already been relegated to a discount house in San Bruno. (Bill Wyman)

Gimme Indie Cred The kindly folks at Matador publicity (who "tipped" Riff Raff "off") just wanted you to know that Live 105 apparently isn't ready for the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Recently, as the radio station's (unspecified) general manager drove away from work while listening in on his car stereo, he heard "Wail" (from Now I Got Worry), which had been in rotation for a week, for the first time. The GM applied his brakes, drove back to the station, and had the single removed from the playlist, saying (allegedly) that the Blues Explosion "sounded like a train wreck." Far more interesting than the story itself (which Live 105 denies wholeheartedly) is the possible motivation behind the tip-off. Indie cred? Mod-rock injustice? Just thought it was funny? We agree that being too cool for Live 105 is, perhaps, a good thing ... but Jon Spencer? (Michael Batty)

Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly. No flack, please.


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