Cheese for Mall Rats

Punk rock has arrived at the Fashion Valley mall. A manager at the Boudin bakery says she talked her boss into allowing bands to play one night a week.

“We’ve had live music since July,” says Jess Tuiletufuga, who has presented different bands on Saturdays from 7 to 9 p.m. She says up to 40 people can fit on the patio. Cheap Lies, Parking Lot Proposal, and 8 Ft. Face are a few of the locals who’ve played there. Each band has to bring its own PA.

“I used to bring live bands to the Zodiac Café,” says Tuiletufuga. “It is a hookah lounge in La Mesa. When I stopped working there [in 2004], they stopped doing live bands.”

She says she has no problem mixing punk rock with sourdough bread.

“As long as they don’t use swear words, I’m fine with it.… Our neighbors and the mall [management] are fine with it, as long as we have no complaints.”

Tuiletufuga says Fashion Valley has its share of vacant storefronts.

“I think a lot of stores expanded too quickly. We have had a lot of businesses close.… My boss has given me [free] rein to do this. She just wants to see the [sales] numbers.”

Though some music entrepreneurs have long complained that the City of San Diego makes it hard for businesses to host live music in an all-age setting, one promoter says performances at Boudin may survive city scrutiny because they’re free.

“Once you start charging a cover charge, the rules change considerably,” says a promoter.

Tuiletufuga says she will pay the bands $10 or $15 in gas money out of her own pocket, but they don’t get anything else except a free meal.

“This is free exposure for local bands. If we can keep the crowds, eventually we may expand to Friday as well. Right now I don’t have enough bands [to expand to twice a week].”

But how does a punk band feel about playing in a mall?

“We’re not going to play death punk but fun punk,” said 8 Ft. Face lead singer John Rocker before a recent show. “I don’t care if it’s pregnant women and their husbands, I’m gonna make them tap their feet.”

– Ken Leighton

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