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Megadeth Doesn't Fit Into the Pyramid's Scheme

August 05, 1995|MIKE BOEHM | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Initially poised for a deep plunge into hard-edged, youth-oriented rock, the managers of the Long Beach Pyramid have decided instead to just get their feet wet.

The new, 5,000-capacity arena on the campus of Cal State Long Beach will stage its first concert tonight with Surf Aid '95, a nine-band punk rock festival that will benefit the Surfrider Foundation environmental group.

But university officials have balked at a previously announced Aug. 12 concert by the veteran speed-metal band Megadeth, forcing its promoter, Avalon Attractions, to move the show to the Santa Monica Civic. Another punk headliner, Pennywise, had been booked into the Pyramid on Aug. 11, but that show's promoter, Goldenvoice, also moved the concert to the Santa Monica Civic. Economic factors, not an actual ban by Pyramid management, appear to be behind that move.

Bryan Meckelborg, a CSLB alumnus with concert industry experience, has been hired by the Pyramid to bring in musical attractions to fill out an arena schedule that will give priority to university athletic events.

"It's frustrating," Meckelborg said of the decision by the CSLB department of athletics, which runs the Pyramid, to shut out the Megadeth show. "We were trying to book shows, do a lot of different things, and it hurts you if you can't have a lot of confidence in the school. They've got to make a decision [about] what they want to do with the building. You can't pick and choose at the last minute, because no [promoter] will bring you a show then."

Mark Edrington, director of operations at the Pyramid, said Wednesday that a Megadeth concert seemed potentially too big and too raucous an event for the Pyramid's first major step into the concert business.

"We want to make sure we start off on the right foot," Edrington said. "We want to be very careful of who we bring in here and make sure our building is intact. We're in close proximity to a [residential] neighborhood, and we want to be a little overprotective at this point."

Approving Megadeth in the first place "was a hasty decision," Edrington said. Since then, he said, the Pyramid has established guidelines for reviewing proposed concerts before approving them.

"Those controls weren't in place when Megadeth was [first] brought to the table," Edrington said. He also said that "there was no specific incident" in Megadeth's track record that prompted the show's eviction but, rather, a general wariness of putting on a big hard-rock event so soon: "Heavy metal is not something we want to start out [with] in the building."

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Nowadays, punk shows generally hold at least as much potential for wild crowd behavior as heavy metal concerts. Edrington said the punk festival tonight, which features relatively unknown regional bands, is expected to draw 2,000 to 3,000 fans, about half what Megadeth might have drawn.

Edrington said he hopes that Meckelborg and his partner, Ed O'Dell, will be able to attract some milder pop and country shows to break in the Pyramid as a concert venue. But he added that no form of music, including heavy metal and punk, is being ruled out.

Meckelborg said that "given some education and time, I think it's in the best interest of the building to use it for concerts like [Megadeth]. I'd love to have some of the people from the school go up to the Megadeth show [in Santa Monica] and see how easy it would have been to do it."

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