Bay Area venues under siege

All ages clubs in the Bay Area are under attack from state regulators at the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). At issue is a regulation — that is not even part of state law and has never been enforced before — stating that all-ages venues have to get half of their revenue from food sales. And of course these being venues, that isn’t always feasible.

This SF Chronicle article spells it out:

Bay Area natives probably can recall their first show at the Fillmore, one of San Francisco’s most famous music halls and the site of performances that span generations of music – from Jimi Hendrix to The Roots. These days, music fans might go to Potrero Hill’s Bottom of the Hill club, the Tenderloin’s Great American Music Hall or Cafe du Nord in the Castro.

Those venues could be forced to close, owners say, if the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, better known as ABC, continues to impose rules that club attorneys argue are legally questionable and often unrelated to booze or safety issues.

Those are absolutely some of the finest clubs in the city. The Great American Music Hall in particular is one of the most beautiful venues in the world, at least in my opinion. I’ve seen everyone from Neurosis to Explosions in the Sky and Joanna Newsom there, and the time I got to play there was one of the highlights of my life to date.

From the standpoint of a 7-year resident of San Francisco, it would be tragic if these clubs shut down. It would certainly lessen the appeal of this fantastic city.

And on another tip: Where the hell do these nosy ass bureaucrats get off trying to make life harder for small businesses in these economic times? Talk about tone deaf and heartless.

This video explains the case well too (or in case you can’t read):

View more news videos at:

The Great American Music Hall is asking folks to email the state legislator interviewed in the video, Mark Leno, and “let him know that you support all-ages clubs in their fight against the ABC.” Email him here:

The venue is also asking people to buy their “Rock-n-Roll is not a crime” shirt (pictured above) to help defray their considerable legal fees resulting from this nonsense. If you live here in the Bay Area, stop by the GAMH box office to pick yours up — and if you don’t live here but want to help out by buying a shirt, email here and arrange to have one shipped to you.

Personally, I’m buying eight. I’ll do anything to keep these places in business. I wouldn’t recognize this city any more, or feel nearly as comfortable in it, if these places were gone. They’re bona fide San Francisco institutions.

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