The following report on the San Francisco scene came spewing out of the brain of Peter Urban, manager of the Dils:
The San Francisco punk scene is basically split into two camps. You've got one camp which is dominated by a trio who hod a stranglehold on the scene for a long time. That's Dirk Dirkson, who runs the Mabuhay, Howie Klein, who's the chief journalist in the area, and Chris Knabe who owns Aquarius Records, the big alternative record store in the city and with Howie Klein owns the chief small label in the Bay area and co-hosts on the main radio show, on KSAN, in the area that is playing the music.
That clique pushes particular bands and particular areas. For instance, Klein in everything he writes still presents the Mabuhay as the pinnacle of the SF punk scene, as being the best place to play, the punk palace of the city. The Mabuhay's a hole, it's a pit, most of the best bands in the city don't play there anymore. The Dils haven't played there since last September. The Avengers still play there occasionally, although they haven't in awhile. Mainly it's because the constituency won't put up with it.
The bands on the Klein/Dirkson/Nab side would be like the Readymades to some extent the remnants of the Hunt, although they're not around anymore, Pearl Harbour and the Explosions, and, to some extent, Crime. Various bands who aren't ashamed to kiss the ass of the three. On the other side you have the Dils, The Avengers, the Zeros, Negative Trend and several others like that.
To make a point, in SF a good crowd is 400, the biggest crowd so far has been 825, that was a gig the Dils and Avengers did together. The Dils haven't drawn less than 400 people in about six months. Howie Klein still writes up the Readymades, a band he manages (although not on paper, but he does all the arrangements so he obviously manages them) builds them up in all the press and to various promoters as the biggest New Wave act in SF It's just simply a flat lie.
The Mabuhay is simply not the hot club anymore. The largest crowds and the largest number of hardcore punks do not go to the Mabuhay, they go to 330 Grove, the Gay Community Centre, 1839 Geary, the Temple Beautiful, used to go to the Deaf Club, and they will go to New Youth productions. They don't go to the Mabuhay because it gouges as far as prices and it does not present the bands people want to see because the good bands won't play. So Klein promotes an out and out lie to the rest of the country. I'm sure it comes up here as well.
Klein personally hates the Dils with a passion and we are among the top drawing bands in the Bay area. We never do our own graffiti but we've got our name in more places and in larger letters all over that city than any other band. We've got things written on walls--"The Punk Death Squad--Dils' Army"--that's the reputation we've got. But the last thing Klein wrote about the Dils in Creem magazine described the Dils' following as small but colourful and that was written in September when we were drawing 400 people.
The small group has maintained power for a very long time. Now with the growth of alternative promoters...the whole New Youth productions come into being to fight that clique. (The first New Youth concert featured the Mutants, Zeros, and Belfast Cowboys. The group got started with a benefit by the Clash which raised $3000. Ed.) Klein passed them off in Creem as a small group of malcontents who couldn't make it in the Mabuhay social scene, so they formed their own group. They had been the social scene but they deserted the Mabuhay because it sucked and tried to do something on their own to counter the stranglehold and he writes them off as a bunch of cretins for the entire notion to read.
There's like a war going on in San Francisco.
If you thought the Dils performance at O-Hara's May 17th lacked a little lustre it is hardly surprising since they only arrived in our fair city 30 minutes before their set. The preceding 10 hours had been gruelling for them.
Beginning at 1 pm, our trusty Canadian border officials chose to apply the law to the letter by refusing them entry to Canada, as they were carrying insufficient funds. You need $45 apiece to comply with the law. You also need a work permit if you plan to work. The Dils didn't have one of these either, but this didn't cause a problem as Canadians had taken their equipment over in advance.
As it was, concert promoter Tony Kennedy rushed to the border with sufficient cash to "bail" the band out, only to come up against US border officials who made things doubly difficult by checking him out thoroughly too. It was as though a conspiracy was underway.
Kennedy finally reached the Dils and gave them the required $180. But things still didn't go smoothly. Canadian officials decided to interview Kennedy and the Dils individually, in an attempt to catch one of them out in a lie. This procedure took another two hours. At 8 pm Kennedy phoned co-promoter Joey Shithead of DOA and told him all was well. Shithead had been sweating it out back at O-Hara's.
It was at this point that Canadian Customs officials stepped in and conducted a thorough search of both Kennedy and the Dils' vehicles, which took another hour. So the Dils didn't make it to O-Hara's until 10. Next time they'll be wearing double-knits.
The Dils/DOA/Shades concert was a moderate financial success with 450 paying customers in a crowd of 600. DOA got $500 of that and the balance of $325 went to the Dils and Shades with Public Enemy picking up $100 after damage had been paid for. The night following the gig a party was organized at the Gore street squat with the $1 door charge going to the Dils.