Sound Check

"We're not big on encores": Lifter Puller's last stand

The Ravers' Ticketmaster?

HELD IN DULUTH on July 29, Liquid Adrenaline's Boogie Fever had all the makings of the summer's biggest rave: a good concept (Seventies funk costumes), a flashy flyer (ditto), and a promising DJ lineup. Yet the less than phenomenal turnout of about 1,700 might have been the result of erratic operating hours at Café Fusion (1526 E. Lake St. in south Minneapolis), the sole outlet in the Twin Cities to regularly sell rave tickets. When potential partygoers found the DJ café closed during the day a week before the event, rumors spread fast that the joint was shuttering permanently.

Paul Allen, owner and operator of the café, attributes the temporary closing to "staffing problems," and adds that the café is undergoing a change in management, menu, and modeling. "We might close for a few days, but we'll schedule around events we're promoting," he says. "We're committed to the kids. I guess everybody really wanted this place to stick around."

Fusion has become the ticket vendor of choice since the ravers' record-and-clothing headquarters, Cynesthesia (203 Elroy St.), stopped selling tickets to most parties last winter. Cynesthesia's owner and namesake Cynthia Kelly, was a godmother to the local scene, but sold the business to a friend last year, and now promoters must sign a liability contract before the shop will sell tickets to their raves. "It can get to be kind of a hassle," says assistant manager Zack Krzmarzick of ticket vending. "I mean, we still have to run a business."

One ray of laser light for rave ticket buyers may be Vital Vinyl, a new dance record store slated to open later this month at 3 W. 15th St., just off Nicollet Avenue; (612) 874-8892. Co-owner Ryan Simatic says the store will sell tickets, while also providing a pre-party atmosphere. "We're hoping to have something where people listen to music beforehand, a place where people can just vibe." And, we hope, get in the door. (Jen Boyles)

Lifter Puller, No More Push

"WE'RE NOT BIG on encores," said Lifter Puller singer-guitarist Craig Finn from the stage at the Weisman Art Museum. Not big on goodbyes, either, apparently. Having played a relatively restrained but heartfelt set of jagged new wave and thanked everyone they could remember to thank, the best band in the Twin Cities exited the stage for the last time on July 29. Only Dillinger Four's St. Patrick Costello moaned into a mic in vain: "Play one more fucking song!"

I'd heard about this farewell gig pretty late via an e-mail from the Weisman oddly appended "if you care," and through an offhand remark to my colleague Keith Harris by drummer Dan Monick: "Oh, by the way, the band's done." Surely, things couldn't be so bad that the six-year-old crew couldn't stick it out another month for a farewell concert that the wider audience might actually hear about. (Though recorded for a possible live release, the Weisman show was less than ideal for the sellout crowd, with a third of the audience pouring into an outer gallery.)

"It's not like we hate each other or anything," said Finn afterward, looking slightly less depressed than his mates, mingling with parents and packing up copies of the band's last, best album, Fiestas + Fiascos. "We're just burnt out, and if we're going to do a band, we want to really do it, not just play twice a year." Okay, but what about another riverboat gig for luck? (Peter S. Scholtes)

Hip Hop in the VIP Room: Closed for Renovations

SPORTING A HAWAIIAN shirt, shorts, and flip-flops, DJ Cornelius looked ready for a vacation on July 29, and no wonder. With partners H Mhoon and Francisco, he rocked "The Barbershop" for the last time this summer, a year after First Avenue launched Minneapolis's foremost Saturday-night hip-hop event in its VIP Lounge to supplement the neighboring house party, System 33. The night will be suspended as the space closes for renovations this month, though it will continue in the 7th Street Entry on Saturday, August 12, at least.

The closing comes on the heels of First Ave. inking a real estate deal with the Hollywood Theatre Company on June 30, giving the club's management effective control over the structure. "The good news is we can do anything we want to the building now," First Ave. manager Steve McClellan says. "The bad news is we don't have any money to do anything. There's been talk of putting a stairway up and redoing the roof so people can sit up there." But completely redoing the roof will cost well over $100,000, so McClellan and company are working on getting financing. More immediate tasks include giving the 409 treatment to the famously filthy premises, repairing windows, and tending to other infrastructure necessities.

The most tangible short-term change will be the return of First Avenue's wall of stars outside, saluting acts that have moved crowds over the club's 30-year run. Most important, however, we can all quit arguing about whether the Hard Rock Café or Chuck E. Cheese buyout rumor has more validity. (Mark Hansen)

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