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Budding Rock Stars: DreamWorks recording artist Papa Roach unleashes its label debut, 'Infest,' at the Edge and goes down in local history as the last rock & roll act to set foot on the Palo Alto venue's well-worn stage.

Getting Over the Edge

Venerable Palo Alto club gets set for big changes

By Sarah Quelland

AN ERA in Bay Area music is drawing to a close. After serving as a space for live rock, punk and alternative music and hosting weekly dance nights for 11 years, the Edge is switching gears. Apparently, mosh pits are out and upscale supper clubs are in--at least in Palo Alto.

Owner Jacek Rosicki's plan to give the Edge a new identity involves closing the nightclub for a complete makeover after April 29. It is scheduled to reopen sometime in July as a posh Silicon Valley 21-and-over hangout. Although the tight-lipped impresario won't divulge the new name, the word "Icon" has been the subject for some loose talk.

Because the club hosted countless acts on their way up, it's fitting that the last live rock show at the Edge comes at a turning point in the career of a band that's enjoyed tremendous local support and graced the Edge's stage on numerous occasions. Papa Roach, which signed to DreamWorks Records last fall, celebrates the release of its label debut, Infest, Thursday (April 27) with Taproot, Salmon and dredg opening. The event encapsulates everything for which the Edge stood and serves as a changing of the guard at the crossroads between the old and the new.

The space itself has been in transition since it was built. The building housed three different grocery stores starting in the late 1960s. Then it was transformed into a German restaurant called the Zinzannati Oom Pah Pah Lounge. By the mid-'70s, it had morphed into the Keystone Palo Alto, a music hall that brought in performers like Bruce Springsteen, Joe Jackson, Los Lobos, Cheap Trick, Huey Lewis and Metallica. As dance music and modern rock nudged aside rock of the classic variety, the club became the Vortex, a dance hall in which Rosicki invested along with other Palo Alto-area businessmen. In 1989, Rosicki bought out his partners and started the Edge.

The Edge, which consistently booked national touring acts, was one of the only all-ages venues where Bay Area teens could catch their favorite bands in a club setting. It was also popular for bringing in older rock acts--like Dio, Dokken, Great White, Mr. Big and Warrant--that were returning to the club circuit. As talent buyer Jimmy Arceneaux says, "We were selling [the club] out when no one else would touch [those bands]."

The Edge had good instincts and good connections, and along with regular tours it managed to bring in stadium-filling artists like Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails and No Doubt for special hush-hush performances.

Sounding more like a fan than a talent buyer, Arceneaux says the Nine Inch Nails show was "like Jimmy gets to go to Disneyland," and he describes the over-the-top evening as "mind-boggling" and "surreal." There is nothing like seeing a larger-than-life performer like Trent Reznor up close and personal.

TRENT REZNOR was just one of many artists to hang out at the Edge after performing at larger Bay Area venues. The nightclub built a reputation for giving celebrity performers like the Cure, Depeche Mode, Boy George and Marilyn Manson a private retreat at which to party.

Arceneaux recalls that 99 percent of the artists would start in the back room but sneak out later to mingle with the rest of the patrons. "They'd be out in front partying with everyone else," he says.

The Edge also supported local bands. After demonstrating sufficient professionalism and musical skill, many Bay Area bands were tapped to open for nationals. Local industrial-metal band Spitkiss earned the honor numerous times, opening for big acts like Marilyn Manson and a solo Sebastian Bach and participating in lineups like next Thursday's with bands like Papa Roach. The band also headlined a show at the Edge several years ago with KillSisterKill and Luxt supporting.

"It was flattering to me to think about all the bands that played on that stage," Spitkiss vocalist Adam Bannister says. "It felt really cool to headline. It means you're in the running with all the other bands that played there."

He describes the Edge as "everything you could ask for in a nightclub," rattling off its all-ages policy, professional staff, central location and quality sound system. As a local musician, he says, "I liked the opportunity to open for nationals and be seen by a large crowd."

When asked how he feels about the upcoming changes to the venue, Bannister is quick to reply: "I think it sucks." Remembering last year's Halloween performance with Remoter and Dave Meniketti, Bannister says wistfully, "I'm glad I got to play there one last time."

While plenty of people are saddened by the news, Rosicki sounds enthusiastic about his new project: "It's very exciting. We're looking for a new chapter on California Avenue." It seems Rosicki's tastes have changed, and he's looking to create a club with a contemporary atmosphere he can better appreciate.

Repeatedly emphasizing that the club will be "more adult-oriented," Rosicki says it will offer a mix of live jazz and funk music. He compares it to successful clubs like Yoshi's in Oakland. The new club will also feature DJ dance nights similar to those held at Agenda Lounge, Rosicki's fashionable club in downtown San Jose. Proposed changes include plans to expand the kitchen, to relocate the bar and to build a new patio for outdoor dining. The restaurant is said to seat 800.

Arceneaux has been tight-lipped about the new endeavor as well and will only say, "It's going to look totally different. It'll be nice."

Papa Roach celebrates the release of its DreamWorks debut on April 27 at 7pm at the Edge, 260 California Ave., Palo Alto. Taproot, Salmon and dredg are scheduled to open. Tickets are $8. (650.324.EDGE)

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From the April 27-May 3, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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