October 23, 2002

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Those were the days: A Kimo's memoir

THERE WAS A time not so long ago when the explosion of new bands and music in San Francisco was indescribably fun and exciting, and Kimo's was at the center of it, possibly one of the reasons it happened. On any given night you could see a noise band, a metal band, and a punk rock band play on the same five-by-five stage. That is what makes a good scene happen – the crossover of ideas that leads to new, better stuff – and Kimo's, thanks to booker Matt Shapiro, was not only open to the idea but also encouraged it. As cheesy as it sounds, the folks at Kimos "believed" in the music. That the music had power. That the music could touch you. That if Shapiro wore lipstick and a miniskirt it might scare away the full-length leather-coat crowd.

There were times when we were there four or five nights a week. It wasn't because Kimo's was "the place to be"; it was just where all the shows were held. Shapiro seemed to have some kind of preternatural ability to put together the right bands so that there was always just enough weird crossover to keep it interesting. And they could do anything. That's why Kimo's was the best, and it's really too bad, even unfair, that it's gone. A scene needs a place like Kimo's in order to thrive.

But there will be another cool spot to replace it; there always is. It just depends on who is smart enough to let Shapiro book his or her club.

These are the best things I ever saw at Kimo's:

Burmese with Face Down in Shit Face Down in Shit played some kind of Virginian pro-tree metal, prefacing each song with stuff like, "This here's a sawng about settin' in the woods with y'alls buddies round a campfire and watchin' th' ashes go up in the a-yer." After they were done, all of their girlfriends sat down on the floor in front of where Burmese set up, in front of the stage. Burmese played for about 10 seconds before Mike (the little one) stomped all over the women like he hadn't seen them.

He ended up tangled up among them and their suddenly very angry boyfriends. Mike then started doing his usual raging against the audience, getting closer and closer with his bass each time. Finally, one of the Virginians grabbed him and punched his face so hard that his glasses came off and he went sprawling and all his pedals came unplugged.

He plugged them back in and charged the audience, and this time he was thrown into the drum set so hard that the drums fell over. A long buzzing sound followed, and Burmese lurched into another song, hampered by the fact that the hippie metal guys were trying to fight them as they played their show. The set ended 15 minutes after it started, with the lights on and scrawny Mike standing there, his fist raised, challenging someone else to punch him in the face, surrounded by pedals, strings, drum equipment, and the sound of the amplifiers turned up too loud.

eXtreme Elvis Before the show, eXtreme Elvis was dragged through the crowd with puke running down his chest. When the show started, he called someone he had a beef with out of the audience and then hit the guy over the head with a bottle. The guy hit the floor, and people started freaking out, especially the drummer, who jumped up and ran downstairs to call an ambulance. He came back and Elvis yelled at him for leaving the stage.

The drummer then got really angry with Elvis and refused to play. Elvis kept yelling, "You're my drummer. Now git back behind those drums and earn your pay." Finally, the guy agreed to play, even though he thought that the stunt was real (it wasn't) and that Elvis had just seriously hurt a member of the audience.

The show ended with 40 people hiding at the back by the fire exit, as far from the stage as possible, where extreme Elvis swayed, pissing, with his shirt off and his pants around his ankles, singing "Mother" by John Lennon, specifically the line "Children don't you do what I have done."

Friends Forever One time these insane dudes from Colorado called Friends Forever drove up in the van they live in and played in front of Kimo's. The drums were set up in back, and the bass player sat in the passenger side and stuck his bass out the window. They had fireworks going off inside and outside of the van, a fan with bottle rockets tied to the blades attached to the bass player's back, sparklers, and a giant canvas bag filled with air. The drummer had his own laser show going in the back seat. It was crazy. The cops showed up about one second after they finished.

Mike McGuirk