Sound Opportunities

If a show happens in a forest, does anyone hear it?

If a show happens in the forest, does anyone hear it?Sometimes it's hard to rein in the cynicism. For example, when Tom Chavez, the new booker for Galia (2565 Mission at 22nd Street), tells me via phone that he wants the live music at his club "to be really diverse" and that he's "obsessed with the quality, not by the draw" of bands, it gives me pause. Certainly these are admirable concepts, but when Chavez remarks that his own group, Insects, is an alternarock act that's "kinda like Radiohead mixed with Queen," I have to wonder about his ideas of quality. While Insects' notion of blending a "glammy hard side with an ethereal side" and putting a child-prodigy pianist onstage may sound promising to some, it sounds terrifying to me. Still, the Bay Area desperately needs music venues, so who am I to turn a deaf ear? Besides, any place that offers free chocolate chip cookies can't be all bad.

Until recently, Galia held only hip hop and salsa nights, and served food in the connecting restaurant. Thanks to the arrival of Chavez, the 500-person-capacity club now books live acts Sunday through Wednesday, with dance events on the weekend. So far Chavez has scheduled an "alternative music" night for Wednesdays, punk-pop and comedy nights for alternating Mondays, and a house party called "Lithium" for Fridays. He's also hoping to resurrect the idea of all-ages heavy metal matinees, which proved popular at the now-defunct Cocodrie. I'm hoping that the venue books more events like the recent Dead C show, at which the heralded noise act played a blistering two-hour set. (Of course, it took the band 20 minutes to figure out that the guitarist's axe wasn't working because it wasn't plugged in. Must've been some mighty strong weed.) However, the organizers might be advised to remove -- or at least reposition -- those strange triangular-shaped art pieces hanging from the ceiling, so that people in the balcony can actually seethe bands.

Not surprisingly, Chavez is optimistic about making Galia an important part of the music scene. "I want this to be the kind of club that people think, "I've got nothing to do tonight,' and they come and find something cool here." (For more info, contact Galia at 970-9777.)

If I seem a tad pessimistic, it's because every time I come back from the bathroom a nightspot has disappeared. This past week the Potrero Brewing Company, which had been booking live bands and DJs over the last couple of months, closed its doors. The PBC series had its share of problems, as you'd expect from a brewpub trying to book something other than jam bands and cover acts. At a show in March, the crew-cutted MBA louts in the audience practically sneered themselves to pieces over the stringy-haired, denim-clad '60s retro act the Winter Flowers (which is strange given that the Flowers re-enact a period of music the suits purport to love). But booker Terrance Ryan showcased a nice variety of sounds, from the wispy indie-pop of the Mosquitoes to the grinding feedback of the Moggs to the '60s-punk DJs at "Garage." If one of you out there has a large stack of cash hidden under your bed, you could do worse than to grab the Potrero Brewing Company and resurrect it -- hell, you could rent out the brew tanks as artists' studios.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some clubs in town are so far below the radar that few people know they book shows. Take the Tempest, for instance. This 100-person-capacity dive (431 Natoma at Fifth Street) has offered bands off and on for several years, although only its loyal bike messenger clientele seems to be aware of it. New bookers Mike Mehaffy and Jessy Jones (an assistant booker at Du Nord for the past two years) hope to raise the venue's profile. Mehaffy plans to showcase mostly punk and rock shows on Saturdays, while Jones' Friday gig is open to everything from indie rock and altcountry to no wave and metal. She's already booked singer/songwriter Matt Langlois for two shows in April and the Old Spice Girls, the "party band" consisting of several folks from Persephone's Bees, for April 26. Interested artists should call 365-1895.

Even further underground is Hot Lunch, a live-work space that owners Gail Sevrens and Scott King rent out for art and music events. Since its opening last July, the 1,000-square-foot Bayshore warehouse has held art exhibits, opera singing, butoh drumming, performance art, and concerts by the likes of noise-bending act From Monument to Masses. King also hosts the Burrito Performance Series, at which viewers share a free buffet while checking out various visual artists. Hot Lunch's next music show takes place on Saturday, April 13 -- a record release party for Clevergirl's Masters of the Here and Now, a somewhat successful melding of tough-girl folk and breezy beats. For more info about booking or shows, call 643-4805 or go to www.geocities.com/hotlunchsf.

 
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