Monday, March 10, 2008

1978 February Save the Masque Benefit

Save the Masque Benefit 
Elks Lodge, Los Angeles

On January 17, 1978 -
the Los Angeles Fire Marshal went down into the Masque to check out the club for safety violations.

He immediately closed it down.

The Masque was sited for:
  • No Occupancy Load permit
  • Not enough exits
  • No fire Extinguishers
  • No Exit Signs
  • Bad Ventilation
  • Blocked off Areas

Branden Mullen hosted a Benefit show to Save the Masque at the Elk's Hall in MacArthur Park, downtown Los Angeles.

Of course ... all the Hollywood scenesters wanted to help save their clubhouse from being closed down.

February 24 & 25 1978
Elks Club
Save the Masque fundraiser
Elks Club, Los Angeles

Elks Club, MacArthur Park, Los Angeles

1957 postcard

Overhead for the show was financed by Slash, Bomp Records and Dangerhouse Records.

Artist on Dangerhouse Records included:
Volunteering their time were local punk favorites: The Dickies, Skulls, The Weirdos and The Screamer. Also playing at the shindig were; the Zeroes, the Dils, the Eyes, the Germs, the Deadbeats, and the Bags.

February 10, 1978
Los Angeles Times
Punk Is Underground - Literally
by Krinstine McKenna

Excerpt from article
The garbage strewn alley running between Cherokii and Las Palmas Sts is the perfect gateway to the hottest punk nightclub in town. Crudely styled red letters spray painted on the brick building offer the only clue that you're at the Masque. The Whisky and Starwood ay showcase the big punk acts, but the Masque is the only spot with authentic underground ambience.
As is usually the case with Bohemia, the Masque is having its due run-in with the law. Closed Jan. 17 for lack of a fire exit.
Fund-raising plans center around a masive new wae jamboree scheduled for Feb. 24 and 25 7:30 p,m to 2 a.m. at the Elks Lodge, 607 S. Park View St. LA.
X playing at the Elks Club


the Bags playing at the Elks

1978 photo:JennyLens

The event was written up in the Los Angeles Times by the venerable rock critic Robert Hilburn. (edited copy of his review)

Februrary 28, 1978
Los Angeles Times
A Positive Perspective on Punk
by Robert Hilburn 
excerpt from article
Some 500 punk-rock fans were attending the first of two weekend benefits to raise funds to reopen the Masque, a Hollywood punk cabaret that was closed Jan. 17 because of city fire and building code violations.

For many who have read about the kinkiness associated with the punk movement in England, the scene would have been threatening. While most of the the audience was dressed routinely, a few dozen wore chains, dog collars and other zombie-ish attire linked to the British punk stereotype.

On stage, the Screamers was an odd-looking foursome. With his hair greased to stand straight up, lead singer Tomata Du Planty raced around like a man in a nightmare. The band's nervous, relentless music added to the room's anxious tone.

Du Planty suddenly leaped from the four-foot stage onto the dance floor to join in the frantic, up-and-down pogoing that is integral to English punk. Rather than strict, pogoing, Friday's crowd darted about, bouncing off each other. It was like bumper cars without the cars.

For the uninitiated, the dance floor looked like a combination gang fight and Demolition Derby. The Screamers maintained their urgent, pulsating pace.

Besides raising funds for the Masque, Mullen had hoped to demonstrate that the L.A. punk scene is a positive, rather than negative social and musical force. However aggressive some the the bands and rambunctious some of the audience, the overriding spirit is one of fun.

He knew, however, the shows were a risk. "We never have any real problems at the Masque." Mullen said during Friday's show. "But you have a different audience here and just 1% or 2% could destroy everything.

If there are problems, it'd make it much harder to deal with the city and the owner of the (Masque) building. It could mean the end of the Masque forever."

He said this weekend showcase-featuring 20 L.A. bands-would also show the individuality of the new wave movement here. The Elks Building was chosen for the shows because its fading elegance appealed to his sense of theater.

Though things went smoothly Friday, there was an undercurrent of tension. Given the uneven quality of the bands, much of the audience spent portions of the evening lounging on the huge stairway or exploring the grand old facility.

Told periodically about trouble somewhere in the building, Mullen spent much of his time moving between the concert room and the main lobby. The reports proved groundless. The audience, too, seemed particularly self-conscious of making sure nothing happened to damage the Masque's future.

By the end of the evening, Mullen seemed drained. There head been problems with the sound; some of the performances hadn't been strong; some bands had to borrow musicians from other groups to round out their lineup.

"The whole point is the movement is still in the embryonic stage," Mullen said. "There's a long way to go. Some of the musicians will drop out. They'll get married. They'll give up. Some bands may reform several times. But I can already see who the best writers are."

"It's a necessary step. We've got to get vitality and freshness back into music. The whole thing is it's anti-technology. It says that you don't need a million dollars worth of equipment and years of study to play rock 'n' roll. Rock has become too dependent on technology. It needs fresh ideas. Most importantly, it needs a place to start. You'd be amazed how many bands are starting up. We get calls every day from new groups wanting a place to play."

The Screamers turned in the most individual and invigorating set of the weekend. While many outfits went after the high energy sound of the Sex Pistols, only the Screamers conveyed the Pistol's maniacal aura. Besides Du Plenty, the group includes Tommy Gear on synthesizer, K.K. on drums and Jeff on piano. (The punk bands are big on first names and assumed names.)

The Zeroes, from San Diego, are more mainstream than the Screamers, but the band has excellent stage presence and a tight, disciplined sound. Because of its tough, street wise stance, the Zeroes have been dubbed the Mexican Ramones.

The Alleycats has much of the crowd buzzing Saturday. Though I missed the trio's set, a tape of the group's first Dangerhouse single showed a striking blend of powerful instrumental swirl and commanding, unnerving vocals by lead singers Randy and Ronnie Spector lookalike Dianne.

Slash-an excellent monthly guide to the local punk scene-says the record due next month shoves the new group "masterfully to the front line."

The Dickies, a fast-rising quintet from the San Fernando Valley, turned in the most disciplined and best received set of the ones I saw Saturday. Indicative of the speed with which bands can progress, the Dickies had only been together a few weeks when it made a triumphant debut last fall at the Whisky. It has since built enough of a following and repertoire to have several record companies interested in them. Normally, the band employs props to give its music a humorous, tongue-in-cheek edge. But it went without them Saturday.

The X band was mostly routine.

Skull, too, has an aggressive, don't-fool-with-me lead singer and a driving, if inconsistent sound

Weirdos, one of the best known local bands, tied with the Dickies for causing the most dance floor activity.

At 2 a.m., the punks said goodbye to MacArthur Park and Mullen prepared to meet with owners of the Masque building to discuss meeting the city code demands.

1 comment:

George Vreeland Hill said...

Punk ruled at the Masque.
The place was IT for music.
I wish it had lasted longer.