Eli’s Mile High Club should be the greatest music venue in the bay area, but Eli’s has always been cursed. It’s original owner Eli Thornton was shot dead by his mistress Frankie (a blues singer) while he tended bar there in 1979. Since then the place has opened and closed a dozen times. There hasn’t been live music in about 3 years, but this past Saturday, January 8th, live music rang out once again.
The ad on my long trusted Terminal Boredom forum stated that the music would start promptly at 9 and be done by 12. I got there just after 9. A block away a car was doing donuts in the intersection of 37th and MLK, tires squealing and smoking. The show didn’t start until 1030, but the DJ had it going on with the New York Doll’s “Personality Crisis” and the Stones’ “Street Fighting Man.” Mystery Mike seemed to be just getting started when he went to switch guitars, the DJ put on the Lyres “Soapy” and that was that. Mystery Mike had a lot to offer including a crazy speckled light show. He sounded a bit like a younger, less distorted Ty Segall. The guitar was joined by simple stand-up drumming and seated tambourines. They possess a raw blues soul that seemed right at home at The Mile High Club.
SF’s Outdoorsmen stole the show in a non-stop hardcore assault. They brought classic punk songwriting, song titles like “Dead Meat” and “Decapitated” and loads of screaming angst. The singer/guitarist deservedly broke a string mid-set.
There is a cozy booth in the corner by the pool table where the walls are covered in cool old momentos including a rare, well-written article from the Express. The cold, smoky patio out back was appropriately slathered in graffiti. The crowd was small, young and punk.
Oakland’s Bare Wires finished off the evening with a short but sweet jumble of tunes. This was my first time to see them live after many close encounters. The Real Kids sound of their recordings translates very well to their live show. The new album, Seeking Love, on Oakland’s own Southpaw Records is getting great reviews. They played one for the ladies but finished just shy of 12:30. As I made my exit 2 cops entered the club. Outside their cars were double parked with the lights flashing.
Eli’s didn’t exactly go all out advertising for this event and they sure as hell didn’t clean the bathroom, but the bar had a fantastic array of drink specials including $2 Olympias, $3 Shiner Bocks and a mysterious purple punch. The bartender is awesome and the food smells great. The place has a historic charm unlikely any other venue in town. The next live show is scheduled for February 1st with Seattle’s X-Ray Press, plus 2 from Oaktown: SuperfinosVTO and Saything. Hopefully the curse is lifted.