Bring the Noise Live music venues are rare enough in San Francisco, but hip-hop clubs are scarcer than rubies on Twin Peaks. For years now, occasional gigs at indie rock or dance clubs have been the only sustenance for a hip-hop community starved for live shows. Enter the Justice League. The club's location (the old Kennel Club building at Divisadero and Hayes) is familiar enough, but the inside will blow you away. The space is literally a work of art: Painted by local graffiti artist Twist (Barry McGee) in the same style as his recent work at the SFMOMA, the interior of the Justice League is beautiful. Cows and people and turntables and screws are hand-painted along two interior walls, giving the club a relaxed, classy atmosphere. A space for hip hop to call its own is already great news in S.F., but the booker deserves even more praise: In the past few weeks, Jurassic 5, DJ Shadow, Latyrx, and Mike Ladd all brought great talent sans gangster crap. “We're keeping it low-key for now with a few shows a month, but expect some spoken word and Latin jazz as well as hip hop in the future,” says owner/booker Michael O'Conner. Riff Raff thanks O'Conner for keeping it on the positive tip. (R.A.)
Blues Ruse All the free drinks and mango chicken in the world couldn't keep the crowd around for the opening party of John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom Room. Hooker's the 77-year-old blues guy whose classic '40s recordings are as crawling and coarse as the music gets; the room is a new Fillmore Street boite that's supposed to help anchor the Fillmore Jazz District. By the end of the night the publicists were drunk and the room was near-empty, as Brenda Boykin, backed by the Oakland Groove Allstars, crooned through a set of Chicago-style tourist blues. It wasn't supposed to go down like that. The publicist who greeted Riff Raff at the door (the club's in the former Jacks, across Geary from the Fillmore Auditorium) said that he expected performances by Hooker, along with Robert Cray, Carlos Santana, Joe Louis Walker, and Roy Rogers. Another flack told us that Bonnie Raitt was expected around 10 p.m. Well, Hooker was gracious enough to show up and sit for the flashbulbs and the intrusive lights of the TV cameras, but he left without playing a lick right after Mayor Willie Brown claimed the Boom Boom Room is “gonna make you forget that there ever was a New Orleans.” Bien sur, Monsieur Maire. Since Hooker wasn't playing, no other celebs were either. With the band in between sets, Hooker's signature tune, “Boom Boom,” played over the house jukebox for the second time in the evening, rather like the way Hooker himself, playing live, lapses into the song five or six times over the course of a show. (J.S.)
We Feel Privileged Running from the corporate orgy his first offspring wrought, Perry Farrell hoped his Enit Festival would be Lollapalooza done right. Wrong. Last year's fest limped along like an anemic child, beaten by scheduling problems and snaillike ticket sales. This year should be different: Farrell's taken out an insurance policy, and the underwriter is named Jane's Addiction. But even though his resurrected band will surely sell thousands of tickets, Farrell is downsizing the affair. In fact, San Francisco is the sole stop: Even though Jane's Addiction are touring the States extensively, the Nov. 22 event at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium will be this year's entire Enit Festival. Warner Bros. publicist Heidi Robinson says the idea behind this year's festival was to have “an intimate celebration in a great city.” Just in case Jane's aren't enough to suck in youngsters faster than a vacuum, electronica potentate Goldie will open the show. OK — rockers covered, dance kids … wait, what about the hippies? Farrell's got that demo covered too. Robinson says Ken Kesey will be on hand to conduct an acid test. We have no idea how this will work (especially after his recent mild stroke), but we can already imagine the crusties asking directions to the Kool-Aid. (Way to showcase your talents, Kesey.) Although it won't be the first for Farrell, the Enit Festival looks like a guaranteed sellout. (R.A.)
Selvin Watch Another article, another mistake. After Joel Selvin's 20-plus years on the job as the S.F. Chronicle's pop music critic — and Ron Wood's 20-plus years in the Rolling Stones — shouldn't Selvin know that it's Ron Wood, not Ron Woods, as he spelled it throughout his Sept. 25 Stones concert review? Confidential to the paper's editors: Most reputable newspapers make an effort to set the record straight when mistakes are brought to their attention. Riff Raff's been working overtime doing just that for the Chron — but you've offered corrections on nary a one. (B.W.)
Got Alternative Rock If You Want It! Portland's Everclear will play a free in-store set at Tower Records on Bay and Columbus Wednesday, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m. (J.D.P.)
Punk Panel: A Report The speakers table was perfectly respectable, with a nice yellow cloth, six microphones, and as many bottles of Crystal Geyser. The 120-person audience took chairs or tried to make themselves comfortable on the Lab's floor. A small easel just to the left of the table held a pad of paper printed with an agenda of sorts. ” 'Punk' Principles,” it read. “1) DIY. 2) Anyone can do it.” The space after No. 3 was left empty. The speakers at the academically titled “Panel of Punks 'Discuss 21st Century Punk Principles and Ethics' ” on Wednesday, Oct. 1, were supposed to fill in the blank, but the discussion flitted around like a moth on a 20-year-old soot-covered light bulb. V. Vale moderated the panel; he's the guy behind those V/Search (formerly RE/Search) books and was also the curator of a show of punk photos — taken from the pages of his once-important Search & Destroy fanzine — currently up at the Lab. He started the discussion by suggesting that the concept of “anti-authoritarianism” join the list of principles. Tribe 8 guitarist Lynn Flipper offered “desperation.” After that, things got fuzzy. Mabuhay Gardens impresario Dirk Dirksen said punk was about exercising one's First Amendment rights; he said he was proud of booking disparate bands with disparate messages on one bill at the Fab Mab. Pretty soon quondam Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra was bitching about getting stuck on bills with heavy metal bands. Penelope Houston, once with the Avengers and now an aspiring major-label songstress, got everyone, or almost everyone, to agree that punk was about smashing the '70s. And then came the pithy exchanges — Houston to Biafra: “Would you ever put the Dead Kennedys back together?” Biafra: “Hell, no.” Houston: “To save the world?” Biafra: “How would we be saving the world if we were pushing the same corny nostalgia as Happy Days?” Much of the ensuing conversation was fodder for a graduate thesis about the perils of reconstructing history; but you have to admit that, unlike the overdocumented 1960s, the history of the S.F. punk scene is essentially unwritten. If the $takes were higher, the light bickering on the panel would get fought out in books, films, and screenplay options. As far as historical authority goes, Dirksen sounds like he's got documentaries in him. Occasionally Dirksen talked like a hippie (“People appreciated that place because it was magic”), but in the next breath he shot down nostalgia, reminding the audience that at least 30 people in the photos of Vale's exhibit were dead. Moderator Vale rescued the panel from the past, and Biafra stepped in with his appraisal of current affairs and his weird, very Ess Eff version of the world according to Biafra. Green Day didn't sell out because they “blundered into success” and “raised $50,000 for Food Not Bombs” (the actual figure was several thousand less); punk magazine Maximum RocknRoll's “clout has diminished as they turned into Rush Limbaugh”; “This kind of rebel culture is going to eclipse CNN in the long run.” Vale dismissed the panel after a short set of questions from the audience. Some old scenesters made their way to the table to press flesh. Meanwhile, outside, the younger punks filtered onto the sidewalk. One kid with a huge Afro turned to a pal: “That was boring. I mean it was kind of cool, but … why didn't you get up there and say something?” His friend, a decidedly '90s greaser punk, responded, “I don't know. They were all just trying to say how much they did.” (J.S.)
Critic's Corner I Riff Raff hears that Rolling Stone Music Editor Mark Kemp has been ousted, continuing the editorial chaos that has disrupted the magazine for years. Owner Jann Wenner brought in Request Editor Keith Moerer in 1995 in an effort to get RS out of its classic-rock rut. This proved more attractive to Wenner in theory than in practice (at one point, Wenner spiked a negative review of Hootie & the Blowfish, his favorite band), and Moerer and company lasted but a year. (Disclosure: Riff Raff's a friend of Moerer's and wrote for the mag during his tenure.) The intelligent Kemp came from Option, which specializes in out-there music. He seemed to be trying to adapt to the realities of the magazine, even providing the publication with its obligatory four-star review of the new Stones album an issue or two ago; but he was pushed out just weeks later. Kemp's replacement: Details' Joe Levy, a former Village Voice music editor. (B.W.)
Critic's Corner II Riff Raff salutes departing SF Weekly Music Editor Michael Batty, under whose guidance this section rocked over the past year. His successor is Jeff Stark, aka Riff Raff correspondent J.S. To both, this space uncharacteristically offers best wishes.
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 (B.W.). Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to email@example.com, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.