SCREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS: Some of the old problems were erased on the last night of the Downtown Performance Center's existence and some refused to die. This past Sunday, July 30, was the last evening a concert graced the stage at the all-ages venue at 530-B N. Stone Ave.
As I pulled into the DPC's dusty little parking lot I could see a few people--among the hundred or more standing outside--with beer bottles in their hands. That was one of the reasons the police were always around over the past four years--underage drinkers hanging outside. It was also one of the reasons the West University Neighborhood Association gave Steven Eye, director of the DPC, for wanting the place shut down. They also complained about parking problems, vandalism and graffiti.
One difficulty that disappeared on that last night was attendance. The DPC had been plagued by low turnouts for its mostly punk concerts over the last year or so. On its final night of providing music, a crowd of about 150 showed up to hear four local bands: Teeth, P.S. 9, Casey Tripped and Yellow Brick Roadkill.
The show began with a postmod nod to Kiss, Don Ho and arena rock concerts. A couple of the members of Yellow Brick Roadkill had Kiss make-up on and set off a smoke bomb, firecrackers, sparklers and screamers as they played. A tikki torch placed in front of the band cast a pale glow on the crowd that had moved from outside to indoors and stood in front of the stage.
They stood there watching as Roadkill launched into their first song, a tune that lasted only 30 seconds before a fuse blew. After the electrical problem had been solved, the band kicked into the same song again. Everyone just stood and watched until one of the group members challenged the crowd. "I thought you were punks," he yelled at the stoic, still audience. "Where's the circle?"
As the band banged out their next number, the circle (a.k.a. mosh pit) was duly formed and young men began hurling themselves at each other as the rest of the audience took a few steps back to give them flying elbow room.
It all seemed a little perfunctory and sad. I suppose I expected anger, maybe even a little rage from a crowd that had been screwed out of its favorite venue by the elitists of WUNA. Maybe the anger will come later. Or maybe it won't arrive at all. Perhaps the kids will just go to other all-age venues like the new Candy Store (behind the Food Conspiracy Co-op on Fourth Ave.) or Gargoyles.
After the smoke-bomb fumes and Roadkill had disappeared, Bruce Momich, DPC co-founder and owner and operator of the DPC Café, 546 N. Stone Ave., took the stage and thanked a bunch of people who had made it possible for the venue to last these four years. He also issued a gentle warning.
"You'll see how difficult it is to do an event like this in the future," he said. "But it can be done. Keep fighting for what you're worth."
He climbed down off of the stage and went over to a table saw in the corner of the old warehouse and began cutting hunks of wood. It seemed like a slightly odd thing to do--even at the DPC. I went over and asked him what he was up to, and he handed me a small piece of worn, dry wood that had been painted black a long time ago.
"Body of Christ," he said with a smile. "It's part of the stage. I'm cutting it up so people can have souvenirs."
Having received a proper benediction, I returned to my seat in the corner--a dilapidated chair that had once cradled butts in a movie theater. From there I watched a couple of the other bands play and surveyed the T-shirts filled with young bodies that went by: Rage Against The Machine, Tool, Skankin' Pickle, Evel Knievel, White Zombie, The Cramps and NOFX.
I'll miss the DPC, even though I was never a regular patron. It was an option I could turn to when I wanted to hear local bands I'd never heard before or wanted to check out a group passing through town.
As I wandered around the parking lot before leaving, I looked at the mural painted on the building next to the performance center. It depicts a string of blindfolded Statues of Liberty surrounded by the words "Think - Art - Control - Think - Art - Control - Think - Art - Control."
It's part of the DPC legacy: Think about our art and who wants to control it.
If people will just do that, the DPC will have an impact far beyond its four years of giving us aural and visual stimulation.
LAST NOTES: We sincerely apologize to singer/songwriter Eb Eberlein for misspelling his name in last week's issue of Big Noise. We know we've messed up his future press kits with our carelessness.
Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas--better known as T.L.C. play the TCC Arena, 260 S. Church Ave., on Saturday, August 5.
They're touring in support of their CrazySexyCool album on the current Boyz II Men tour (the Boyz aren't part of this concert). Call 791-4266 for ticket information.
A Jeff Lynne-less version of Electric Light Orchestra plays The Outback, 296 N. Stone Ave., on Thursday, August 3. Original drummer Bev Bevan is with the group, so you know this is really the E.L.O. They'll play "Can't Get It Out Of My Head," "Telephone Line," "Evil Woman," "Strange Magic," "Don't Bring Me Down" and all of their other hits--even without Jeff. Call 622-4700 for more information on this show.
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