There's good news--at least for now.
After three dormant years, one of Southern California's most popular concert halls, Perkins Palace, is up and running again--though it may be a short race.
Opened in 1924, the Art Deco building in Pasadena has gone through a variety of existences--from opera and vaudeville showcase to movie theater to porno outlet.
Perkins' life in rock began in 1980, and over the next five years it hosted concerts by a wide range of acts, both mainstream attractions like Pretenders and Phil Collins and more esoteric bands like XTC, the English Beat, Black Flag, Einsturzendecq Neubautencq and the Jam.
The beat stopped in 1984, however, after promoters Avalon Attractions pulled out and a series of punk concerts prompted complaints from nearby property owners about rowdiness in the neighborhood after shows. The curtain seemed to fall for the last time with the Cult performance of July 27, 1984. Since then, the building on Raymond Avenue has been standing empty, except for occasional TV or movie shoots.
But rock returns on Saturday with a colorful bill featuring the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Dickies and the Little Kings.
The force behind the revival of this Palace is Pacificoncerts, the promotion firm that has spent $6,000 on a face lift that included reinstalling the seats.
Roger Shepherd, president of Pacificoncerts and former partner in Avalon Attractions, believes the time is right for live music east of L.A.
"There are cycles where people play certain types of rooms and there's a real need for an 1,800-seat (hall) in that location," he says. "Land values being what they are, people would rather tear down (theaters) and put up high-rises. Now ticket prices have risen to a point where they can offset the cost of the building."
While Marc Perkins, who co-owns the building with developer Gene Buchanan, hopes that Pacificoncerts can bring in the crowds, his prognosis for Perkins Palace becoming a musical landmark once again is guarded. After all, he's tried to do that himself ever since he bought the building in the late '70s.
"I got tired of seeing the police department and the fire department outside of my shows for things that wouldn't have drawn any attention at the Palace in Hollywood," he says. "It's just a parochial, conservative, small-town mentality here. Plays aren't gonna work, movies aren't gonna work. The one thing that puts people in the seats is rock 'n' roll.
"And certain (acts) are going to bring out people that dress innovatively and wear their hair differently and the police have a problem with that. We did some damn good shows here, but I always felt someone was trying to bring it down."
Barring an unprecedented response both from fans and local authorities, Perkins and Buchanan are going ahead with plans to renovate the theater for use as a four-story office building. But they may draw fire from local preservationists. Said an employee of Pasadena Heritage, "The glory of that building is not the exterior, it's the interior." The organization is taking a wait-and-see approach to the issue. Meanwhile, Pacificoncerts will continue with a month-by-month lease.
"It's not like people in Pasadena have been saying for three years, 'Boy! We've got to have some shows there,' " says Perkins somewhat sadly. "But at least we'll be able to see some good rock in the next few months."
ROCKIN' THE SAN GABRIEL VALLEY, II: Is One West, a squeaky-clean yuppie restaurant and bar in Pasadena, the place to find the next X? Could be, now that promotions manager Debbie Simes has added a weekly local-music showcase to a schedule that otherwise consists of three nights of Top 40 music, a regular Monday engagement for rockabilly artist James Intveld and a Tuesday night bikini contest.
Sponsored by radio station KROQ-FM, the showcases are an outgrowth of deejay Poorman's nightly emphasis on tapes of unsigned local bands. The best of these acts will be invited to play at One West.
KROQ staffer Ken Fusion, who helps put the showcase lineups together, admitted that the nature of the restaurant dictates that acts selected must be somewhat mainstream, but believes that many of the bands coming through will be commercial contenders in the future.
But judging by the two bands that played at the second showcase two weeks ago, that doesn't mean the events are necessarily tame, musically speaking. Silent Pictures, a quartet from Hermosa Beach, started off with an energetic, danceable set that would not have been out of place during L.A.'s power-pop heyday a decade ago. This was followed by Food for Feet, a side project of Oingo Boingo bassist John Avila and drummer John (Vato) Hernandez with guitarist Mike Tovar that was inventive (hard, unusual rhythms), fun (the wildest version of "Tequila" you could imagine) and very loud.
MILO GOES BACK TO COLLEGE: The Descendents, the veteran South Bay punk band that was recently picked by L.A. Beat as one of the ranking Southland groups, were scheduled to play their last local show Friday at Fender's--at least in their current form. Living out the title of their 1982 album "Milo Goes to College," lead singer Milo has left the group to attend graduate school in biochemistry. Remaining members Bill Stevenson, Carl Alvarez and Stephen Egerton will be joined by Dave Smalley, former lead singer with Dag Nasty, and will continue under the name All (the title of the recent Descendents album). The band will begin recording an LP soon, and expects to start playing around town in February.
CLUB NAME OF THE MONTH: The Surprising Taste of No-Wax Formica! (which also gets a mention for the most creative club phone messages in eons, changing weekly according to the club's theme). This new live music/dance club takes place on Fridays at the former hot spot of punk/new wave in Chinatown: the Hong Kong Cafe, 943 N. Broadway, (213) 281-6777.
CH-CH-CH-CH -CHANGES: Two esteemed local quartets have each lost a bassist/singer. Wednesday Week's Heidi Rodewald has decided that the touring life is not for her, and Long Ryder Tom Stevens has left to form his own band, Mercury & the Mummies. Each split has been termed friendly by spokesmen for the artists. No word yet on permanent replacements, but Radwaste's John Talley-Jones is filling in on Wednesday Week's current national tour.
SPANNING THE GLOBE: Fans at a recent Angry Samoans concert in Phoenix got a little out of hand when they were displeased with the performance of the opening band, L.A. speed-metal outfit Omen. According to Andy Van De Voorde, music editor of the Phoenix weekly New Times, a few Samoan fans, after failing to get a rise out of the Omen fans by holding lighters in the air in a mock metal salute, attempted to set Omen guitarist Kenny Powell's jeans on fire. They failed.
BUMPER CAR ROCK: You may not be able to boogie downtown if the Street Scene is off, but you can still pogo on the pier. The third annual Twilight Dance series at the Santa Monica Pier is now running every Thursday evening through Sept. 10. Sponsored by the City of Santa Monica and eight other civic and private groups, the free shows (which can accommodate up to 5,000 people) get going at 7:30 p.m. and feature everything from the all-star blues of the Bluesbusters to the polka madness of Rotondi to the Cajun contortions of Queen Ida. . . .
A new series of variety shows begins Friday at 8 p.m. at the Variety Arts Center (where else?) in the Ed Wynn Comedy Room. The premiere event features H.R. from Bad Brains doing a "spoken-word rap" about Rastafarianism and his recent experiences in jail, a screening of the X documentary "The Unheard Music," Phast Phreddie's new band Phast and Bulbous and Acoustic Whatsit (Debbie Patino and Geza X).
WE GET RESULTS: After reading L.A. Beat's list of the 15 best local bands in the July 5 Calendar, Hard Rock Cafe owner Peter Morton called two of the groups to see if they would donate guitars to the trendy restaurant's display. The lucky bands: Firehose (deemed the quintessential L.A. band by this column) and Redd Kross (a personal favorite of Hard Rock Cafe creative director Karen Parker). So, guitars from those aspiring bands soon will rest alongside axes once used John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and members of Los Lobos, the Bangles and Van Halen.
"I can't imagine my guitar up there with Eric Clapton," said Firehose guitarist Ed Crawford, adding that at first he thought it was someone playing a prank when Parker called him. "It's not so much an honor as a challenge to live up to a hope people seem to have in us."
How can a young local band afford to give away a valuable tool of its trade? Well, the Hard Rock Cafe gives the musicians a choice of a new guitar or having a monetary donation made to a favorite charity in their name. In these cases, each is taking a new guitar--a Carvin for Redd Kross' Robert Hacker and a Schecter for Crawford.
The Redd Kross guitar will be enshrined in a ceremony at the restaurant on Aug. 6. Firehose will wait until later this summer because Crawford wants to keep his guitar until Firehose has finished recording its second album.