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O. C. LIVE

Tiki Bar Shaking Its Punk Funk

February 08, 1996|JAMES McCAFFREY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Tiki Bar, a Costa Mesa club that has long helped boost local bands by putting them on bills with top-name touring punk-rock acts, has changed management in an effort to rejuvenate the struggling nightspot.

Owner Doug Patty decided to change the approach rather than sell the club. His partner, Rusty Vasterling, said the venue had fallen into a stylistic rut and needed more variety.

"We've opened our doors to alternative bands for a long time. Now, I think we need to widen our spectrum a little bit."

While accessible punk rock will still be offered one or two nights a week (as opposed to nightly before), Fridays and Saturdays will feature cover bands and recorded Top 40 dance tunes between sets.

The new manager is Richard Frei, who held that job at Rumplestiltskin's on Balboa Peninsula.

"We've talked to a lot of people coming through the door and come to the conclusion that a lot of our crowd comes here because it's the Tiki Bar and they like to drink pitchers of beer, shoot pool and hang out," he said, referring to the current punk-rock crowd. "When they see the quality of the [new] bands that are available to us, they will come [back]."

Frei is hopeful that booking changes will help develop new audiences without alienating the regulars.

Six pool tables, a laid-back decor and a nice stage and PA system contribute to the Tiki Bar's relaxed vibe. The club is also accented by all means of surf kitsch and memorabilia.

Pitchers of beer range from $5.25 to $10.50, mixed drinks go for $3.25 to $5.25, and there are nightly drink specials. The only cosmetic changes planned are minor (new carpeting and paint). Cover is now a standard $5, and bands start promptly at 10 p.m.

Other nights on the new schedule are formatted as follows: Sunday is a blues/bebop jazz night; Monday is new-band night and will showcase short sets by local talent with opening chores relegated to alternative-rock cover band Fuzzy Pickle; Tuesday is "The Afterlife" and will feature punk bands; and Wednesday is "eclectic night" and will host whatever bands outside promoters Heck and Breck of Newport Beach's Thunderbird Lounge fame deem fit (punk journeymen DI played recently).

Thursday is Club Jive! (disco) and has rotating bands Bulkhead and Night Train paired with deejay Savvy Lavvy lined up to celebrate the '70s.

Upcoming shows include Honey on Friday and Saturday, and a triple-bill with Hinged, Warm and Higgens Mary Higgens on Tuesday.

* TIKI BAR

* 1700 Placentia Ave., Costa Mesa

* (714) 548-3533

* Open 4 p.m.-2 a.m.

* $5 cover nightly; Visa, MasterCard, American Express, ATM.

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