Riff Raff

Scenes From the Fleadh Intrepid Riff Raff correspondent Heather Wisner brought along her camera to the Guinness Fleadh Festival at San Jose Stadium last week. Her findings: Guinness + hot sun + stupid people = drunken mess. Below, Wisner offers proof. (J.S.)

Cat's Back With all the police attention focused on any nightclub in possession of an after-hours license a few months ago, it was with some trepidation that Riff Raff watched Cat's Grill and Alley Club shut down for retrofitting in February. We'd witnessed this scenario before, and when the original reopening date in April passed without fanfare, we sighed and expected the worse. Surprise! The Cat Club, as it will henceforth be known, is the shiny new kitten shared by longtime Cat's Alley owner Tony Carracci and local club promoter Matt Chambers. You may remember Chambers from "Mystery City" -- a goth/industrial club he started at the Underground in 1989 -- or from the original "Terminator," or from his many DJ stints at "Bondage A Go-Go" and the like. The new lineup at the Cat Club -- "1984" on Thursdays from "Colossus" promoter Gus Bean, former V/SF house night "Agent" on Fridays, "Sophee's Soul Food" on Saturdays, and Latin Mondays -- is conspicuously devoid of all things goth; surprising, given Chambers' standing in the community and his tight relationship with Damon Boyle, founder of "Bondage A Go-Go" and "So What." According to Chambers, the goth thing is over for the Cat Club -- though Wednesdays are still open should "Bondage" ever get itchy. Sundays will be reserved for live bands and a good sushi chef à la Nightbreak, and there will be happy hour specials, a red-felt pool table (kinda goth), and a jukebox available every day of the week. The club was still missing its front end when Riff Raff visited, but it was easy to see what a little remodeling has done for the place. Gone is the heavy hood that once hung over the main bar, gone is the near-useless kitchen and the creepy massage room, gone is the old coat check and leaking toilets. From here on out, it's all about windows, dancing, and comfort -- the sort of place a person could get used to. "Don't worry," says Chambers, "the developer who is turning the warehouses behind the Cat Club into loft spaces has already offered to soundproof the club so that there won't be any problems in the future." If only it always worked out so well. The Cat Club opens on Thursday, July 9. Management requests glassware in exchange for liquids. (S.T.)

Kids (and Rockers) Say the Darndest Things Riff Raff's Deep Throat at the Smashing Pumpkins' June 30 PR appearance at Oakland's Hawthorne Elementary School tells us that the kids still ask the toughest questions. When the alternative pop quartet, er, trio popped in on a class of fifth-graders a couple of Thursdays ago, the youths didn't ask much about the band's new album or why the group is currently doing a string of benefit shows. (SP's show last week raised money for the East Bay Agency for Children.) Our source says that one 10-year-old boy wanted to know about a slightly touchier subject. "What happened to Jimmy?" he said, referring to former Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlain, who was with keyboard player Jonathan Melvoin when he died from a heroin overdose in a Chicago hotel room. Chamberlain reportedly helped Melvoin score his smack and was subsequently booted from the band. "Oh," answered bassist D'Arcy Wretzky-Brown, who, like Billy Corgan and James Iha, was quite photogenic in all-black finery, "he misbehaved, so we had to let him go." (Philip Dawdy)

1-800-BEASTIE Last week, on S.F. public-access Channel 27, we watched two skinny guys dressed in spandex, sunglasses, and bad wigs hype their exercise equipment. Maximum bulk with minimal effort, they boasted. The skinnier of the two jumped onto a rowing machine, took two or three pumps, and hopped up. "Look at me now!" he exclaimed in a slight Brooklyn accent. (He was, of course, no bulkier for the exercise, but the television audience cheered nonetheless.) Riff Raff had seen stupid infomercials before, but something about this one just seemed ridiculous. We looked closer. Wait, could it be? Yes, those two gawky salesmen were none other than Adrock and Mike D, two-thirds of the Beastie Boys. What the hell? We made a phone call or two. It turns out the infomercial parody was actually part of a 16-city marketing campaign orchestrated by the Grand Royal record label and Diane Tameecha of On Tour Video. The campaign is subtly hyping the B-Boys' new CD, Hello Nasty. We know rock 'n' roll marketers have been using unusual ad campaigns, code switching, and ironic parody to move units for years, but you have to give this one credit for taking it to the max. Tameecha says she approached Grand Royal about the idea a few months ago, but the concept for the parody came from the B-Boys themselves. The program is a half-hour special featuring the Beasties peddling everything from the Miracle Product car polish that doubles as sex lube (Mike D uses the band's CD to apply the polish) to the secrets of amassing great wealth with MCA as the chino-wearing Bill Stevenson, the Money Man. In between the skits, fans can mail-order advance copies of the CD by calling an 800 number. The show times of future screenings are available at www.grandroyal.com. (R.A.)

Riff Raff riffraff: Robert Arriaga (R.A.), Johnny DiPaola (J.D.P.), Karl D. Esturbense (K.D.E.), Jeff Stark (J.S.), Silke Tudor (S.T.), Heather Wisner (H.W.), and Bill Wyman (

 
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