Creating a cool club

Jan 31, 2001 at 12:00 am


As many are no doubt aware, the Royal Oak Music Theatre and its lame-brained 4th Street club nights (test-tube shooters, anyone?) ended abruptly late last year after local liquor-control authorities and city fathers effectively put the kibosh on the impromptu sidewalk “fight nights” at the club.

Nevertheless, local promoters and club owners continued to lick their chops at the theater’s potential given its pre-eminent location, smack in the midst of the prepackaged entertainment theme park known as downtown Royal Oak.

Once the club went into bankruptcy, former independent club czars-turned-SFX corporate functionaries Blair McGowan and Amir Daiza bid furiously for the rights to purchase the business and its liquor license, but they were unsuccessful.

That opened the doors for Colorado-based Nobody In Particular Presents to put in the high bid and secure the rights to reopen the biz — now known as the Royal Oak Theatre. Showing a remarkable level of perspicacity for an out-of-town operation, the new owners have thrown into the booking mix what is becoming a weekly blend of indie-cool local bands, bands which in the past had rarely crossed over the Nine Mile hipster Maginot Line.

Not anymore, however ... at least for the time being, as Friday night saw your undaunted columnist braving the suburban thrill-seekers on a weekend night in Royal Oak to take in a triple bill at the theater featuring Blush, W-Vibe (also known as “Dubya Vibe”) and the Witches. (In honor of the departing merry pranksters of the Bill Clinton White House, we will heretofore lose the “W”s and call them “-Vibe” and the “Itches.”)

While Nobody in Particular Presents is running the theater, my first thought upon entering was Nobody in Particular Attends, as the expansive venue was sparsely filled, at least for the opening set by three-fourths girl group Blush, which nevertheless put on a commendable performance of its vaguely ersatz-’80s-meets-21st century-4AD tunes. On an impromptu census count, I came up with 54 people in the house, which included the overstaffed, scantily clad bar crew, and the members of the remaining two bands who had yet to perform.

The event picked up speed, however, as the crowd began to trickle in. Attendees consisted primarily of scenester cognoscenti usually found at downtown’s Magic Stick or Gold Dollar. Indeed, I overheard one individual facetiously ask “Where’s Neil Yee?” in reference to the Gold Dollar major domo.

As the crowd picked up, the Loose Lips camera crew went to work, spying Outrageous Cherry/Volebeats/etc. fixture Matt Smith, who previously toiled with the Witches, along with Robert McCreedy and Eugene Strobe. Smith was sporting a plaster-clad right arm in a sling, which, contrary to reports, was not the result of a furious guitar riff, but rather the repercussion of a slip on the ice.

Also caught in the glare of the camera was Witches’ bassist Matt Hatch along with Eve “Starsky” Doster, also known in certain small circles (i.e. about the size of the high-top cocktail table at which they were seated) as “Starsky and Hatch.”

Meanwhile, eagerly photographing the Witches was Aran Kathleen Ruth along with “Noelle Ghost World,” no doubt a reference to the side project of Witches’ guitarist John Nash.

Over the din, I heard my name being shrieked by ex-Stun Gun/current-Blush drummer Kelly, standing at the bar with former aspiring classical pianist and band mate Amy Anselm. After hearing the shriek, I now understand why Kelly’s the drummer. The two blush-ing barflies informed me that they will soon be playing in an estrogen-fueled triple-bill spectacular consisting of ex-Stun Gun bands Blush, Sweaty Suede Lips and Crud. In a nod to her old band, Kelly noted that the most recent performance by Stun Gun at the Stick was “the best they’ve ever sounded.”

Meanwhile, Troy Gregory and the Witches put on a jangling stellar performance on the main stage, not looking quite as lonely up there on the huge stage due to the fact that they are a supergroup-sized band (six members), in addition to the mysterious smoke-machine cloud that would hover over the band like some indoor cumulonimbus stage prop.

Anyway, to wrap this up, kudos to the new Royal Oak Theatre’s management for some creative local booking, as well as the free Goombah’s pizza distributed to the crowd. Get out there for the next show before they pull the plug and resurrect test-tube shooters and the midnight money drop.


In odds and ends, word on the street is that Robert Bradley’s Blackwater Surprise is kaput, the victim of the dreaded “no thank you” by RCA on the opportunity to pick up the band’s option.

Also in the news, the ongoing court battle rages on between JerryVile” Peterson and John “Son of Bee” Badanjek, those erstwhile partners in publishing, over the minimal profits and potential IRS bills affiliated with a free entertainment/advertising circular published in the suburbs with the word “Detroit” in its title.

What lies at the heart of this dispute is the tab owed by the magazine to the IRS, an amount which Peterson’s attorney speculated was for unpaid withholding taxes.

In order to get to the bottom of the IRS debt, Peterson requested to see the books and records and related tax documents of the paper, a request which has heretofore been rebuffed by Badanjek.

Two weeks ago, the parties went to court on Peterson’s motion to appoint a receiver to take over the biz. While the court didn’t order a receiver, it did order Real Detroit to turn over all financial info to Peterson, as well as give him access to the day-to-day operations of the business. Stay tuned.

Casey Coston writes here every other week. Got gossip, hot news, party invites? E-mail [email protected], or call the tip line at 313-962-5281. Press * then dial