The city forces the veteran punkers to cancel their free outdoor concert

By Gary Susman
Updated June 21, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Veteran L.A. punk band Pennywise, whose new album ”Land of the Free?” and single ”F-ck Authority” were released yesterday, found those titles put to the test when the West Hollywood City Council put the kibosh on their plans for a free outdoor concert. The band had scheduled a performance Tuesday in the parking lot of the Tower Records store on Sunset Boulevard but found out last Thursday that, despite approval from the sheriff’s and fire departments, the city refused to let the show go on.

”The City Council doesn’t think our music is fit for local eardrums,” guitarist Fletcher Dragge tells EW.com, although local fans have made ”F-ck Authority” one of the most requested songs on influential L.A. station KROQ-FM. The band claims it was the council’s misinterpretation of the song that led to the denial of a performance permit, though the council says its concern was over issues of safety, noise, and traffic. ”We could care less about the content of their lyrics,” the city’s director of public information, Helen Goss, tells EW.com. Adds Dan Laray, the city’s festival and events specialist, ”It wasn’t I that brought up content.”

Goss and Laray say their safety concerns stem from an incident last Tuesday at the city’s Key Club, where Pennywise was taping a concert for HBO’s ”Reverb.” During the set, a fire marshal called the police after someone jumped from the balcony. Band manager Stewart Teggart dismisses the incident, saying the diver dropped a mere 6 feet onto the stage, and that even the officer who answered the call thought the marshal had overreacted.

Teggart admits he may have raised the content issue with Laray, but says that once Laray heard the name of the song, ”He said, ‘I can’t have the residents of West Hollywood hearing those lyrics.”’ Apparently, Laray thought it was an anti-police song, but Dragge says it’s not. Teggart adds that the band offered not to play the song and pay for extra police protection, but still no go.

For his part, Laray says the city rarely approves concert permits for the Tower parking lot, but when pressed, he acknowledges that of the seven applications the city has received in the last couple years, five were granted to such VH1-friendly artists as Rod Stewart, Brian Setzer, and Duran Duran, while only two were denied, including Pennywise’s.

Pennywise did perform on Sunset Boulevard yesterday, but indoors at the House of Blues, which holds a crowd half the size of the one they expected at Tower Records. Teggart says he’s disappointed the band didn’t get to ”create a small spectacle on the street,” but Dragge adds, ”We’re trying to tell kids their voice should be heard. We’re not telling them to go out and break stuff.” And they call themselves punks?

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