For those of you not in the Sioux Falls area, every week I go on a
local radio station (KRRO) and kick somebody out of town. This nasty
bit of ranting started a few years ago when I was the music editor of
Tempest Magazine. Once a year, we ran a list of ten people who should
leave our fair city. With that rag long gone, I've carried on the
Before we begin, there’s an issue I must address.
Over the course of the last few days, I’ve been dwelling on the
appropriateness of the Get Out of Town segment. With a war in
progress, could I possibly carry on my role as a smarmy, glib,
sarcastic, negative creep? Last night I had to make a decision, and
after downing a couple of whiskey-cokes, the decision was made.
Eliminating Get Out of Town would mean one thing - the terrorists had
This week’s segment is actually more serious than my usual
ranting and raving, and I actually had to put on my reporter’s
cap to come up with the true story. It’s a story of a sick girl,
a bunch of caring rockers, and some money-grubbing Christians
spoiling the good work...and the Good Book.
Unknown to most people, there is a rock club in town. It’s
called Diesel, and it’s run by a Christian organization. You
don’t have to be a Jesus freak to play there, though, and to
their credit they’ve opened the doors for plenty of aspiring
local musicians. I personally know a number of aspiring young
musicians who have had their first shows at this facility.
Not that there haven’t been rumblings of problems at this joint.
Like all good Christian organizations, the operators of this club
have bled these mainly high schoolers of most of the proceeds of
their shows. Many promoters have complained that the rent of this
hall is a good deal more expensive than the Pomp Room was back in
their all-ages heyday, or the other halls that at times are used for
shows. Availability is an issue with places like K.C. Hall, so Diesel
sometimes has to be used.
A few months ago, a friend of mine was approached by a local punk
rock fan. A good friend of hers had a serious illness - I believe it
was leukemia - and this person was asked to organize a benefit show.
Diesel was eventually contacted, and a contract was signed that gave
Diesel 50% of the door money.
In my mind, that contract was a red flag. I’ve been involved in
charity shows in the past, and the general rule is that almost
everything is either donated or provided at a heavily discounted
rate. Volunteers do most of the legwork, including the collection of
donations for auctions and the printing of fliers. Businesses provide
other needed items, from sound equipment to food and drinks. Bands
play for free. And most importantly, the halls generally donate their
facility. Not these Bible-toters!
With the date finalized, bands literally lined up for the opportunity
to play. Some were familiar to the Babafest crowd; others were the
cream of the underground punk circuit. The show was a resounding
success, reportedly packing the club. Three hundred twenty five
people paid four bucks a head. That’s thirteen hundred bucks,
which should have netted the sick girl over six hundred fifty. Well,
in my opinion it should have netted her thirteen hundred, but a
contract’s a contract.
After the show was over, my musician buddy saw the sick girl’s
friend crying. She was handling the door with her mother. Someone
from Diesel had taken the entire proceeds from the women, leaving
them with the thirty bucks that was in a little donation bucket that
was in the foyer of Diesel. You can imagine the anger that resonated
from the band’s that had just rocked their socks off.
The owners were confronted by a contingent of musicians, who claimed
to know nothing of the contract or the details of the cash breakdown.
They claimed they needed the money for rent. They were then
threatened with a call to the police if they didn’t leave
I heard about this story a few days later. At first I didn’t
believe it; there had to be more to the story. But after talking to a
number of people who would know the truth, it appears to be true.
I’ll say it again - never trust Christians with money. It’s
their ultimate salvation. And it’s a shame. This could have been
the show that empowered this facility. The good vibes of hosting a
benefit show featuring a good percentage of Sioux Falls’ finest
musicians could have turned Diesel into a thriving non-alcoholic,
all-ages rock club. They could have carried on their mission for
years to come. Now I don’t know a single soul who will set foot
in the joint. Short-term greed overcame long-term financial and
There is a happy ending to this story, though. There will be a second
benefit show for Amanda Rempher on Sunday, April 13th at the VFW on
Minnesota Avenue. This time one hundred percent of the door proceeds
with be donated to her family to help cover the costs of cancer
treatment. The show starts at three, it costs five bucks, and some of
the bands who have agreed to play include Suffer, Blinding Light,
Psychosomatic, Deadline (one of their last local appearances),
Chronic Mass, and many others.