Taking a Break
Where have we heard this before? Last week, the doors of the Nightbreak were closed to the public. That's right — no more Sushi Sunday and this time they mean it … we think. According to Mark Olier, who booked the Haight Street rocker venue for seven out of the last nine years (through three owners and a couple of name changes), “Artists used to love playing here, but it's just been too hard to re-establish our reputation. Getting local bands to play has been painful. I've had to beg shamelessly, but as a strictly beer-and-wine venue we couldn't afford to compete with the money offered by full-bar rooms.”
“People just don't want to come to the Haight to see live shows anymore,” he continues. “Parking is a nightmare, you have to battle all the homeless people.” Maybe so, but as Fast Mike, who booked Nightbreak Monday through Wednesday, points out, the neighboring Boomerang is faring better than ever. And Mike's more punk-oriented shows were making money — “sometimes more than the weekend shows.” Although the two bookers had their quibbles, Olier says, “I have nothing against punk rock — if it's good. But the caliber of artists frequenting the nights I didn't book made it increasingly difficult for me to get notable talent. Artists didn't want to share a marquee with bands whose fan base consists of seventh- and eighth-graders from Walnut Creek. Customers stopped coming.”
“It was mismanagement,” counters Fast Mike. “The owner [Ken Nakamura, who was unavailable for comment] wanted the Nightbreak to be a homey place where you could take people after dinner, but that's just not the type of club it is.” Was.
Tragedy struck an Oakland rap concert last Saturday after two young men fleeing a miniriot outside the Eastmont Mall were killed in a car crash. The melee erupted after a swelling crowd gathered to see Tha Dogg Pound, E40, and Mac Mall (and, as untrue rumor had it, 2Pac and Snoop) grew increasingly disgruntled with the painfully slow security check and mobbed the parking lot, fired shots in the air, and pelted police and each other with rocks and bottles. According to several witnesses, the heavy security — 23 off-duty Oakland officers, an armed private security force, and Nation of Islam members — did little by way of crowd control until the violence escalated. Promoters and police are still investigating what exactly went wrong, but two things are certain: The Oakland City Council-approved concert was ill-planned, and a scheduled May 4 2Pac gig ain't going to happen.
By Silke Tudor, Billy Jam