By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
The accompanying photos suggest it was a packed house that Sunday afternoon. Scowling, burly young Caucasian males with all-over body tats yelp into microphones. Angry white boys tussle with one another in the mosh pit. A band's guitarist picks away at a Gibson, on which "Orange County" is stenciled in old-English lettering. Most of the men in the crowd sport the standard skinhead uniform of closely-cropped Marine Corps hair, while the women appear attentive and rather shocking in their ordinariness; any one of them could be that sweet-smiling woman who checks your groceries at Albertson's or occupies that coveted office cubicle near the window.
But the greatest show ever? The photos are pretty typical concert shots—save for one in which several concertgoers salute Nazi style beneath a banner that clearly reads, THE SHACK.
The earliest evidence of a Shack White Power show is a review of a Dec. 18, 1999, show on the website of Youngland. Here, too, a photo of the band includes the Shack banner behind the stage.
But the review is more valuable because it provides at least one description of the Shack's evolution. Like most struggling acts, the review acknowledges, White Power bands have a tough time landing paying gigs; unlike most struggling acts, White Power bands have the additional burden of Adolf Hitler. For this reason, the review says, "What has to happen is plenty of logic and deception on the part of the bands to get on the stage." What sort of logic and deception? At this point, the review becomes a kind of Mein Kampf for the stage: "The way this show was booked was to frequent the club, make friends with the person booking shows, then call him up and say . . . 'Hey, Bro, I got a couple of bands that want to play; do you have any open shows?' On this occasion, the guy feel [sic] for it hook, line and sinker! He put all three bands on Saturday night as the headlining acts! . . . I think there was a look of concern on the promoters [sic] face when he saw 100 skinheads in his club."
But it's doubtful that look was really one of concern; Shack co-owners Gibson and Terbay say they will book just about anybody—as long as they behave themselves.
"We don't call them White Power bands, just rock bands," Gibson told the Weekly. "It's all just rock & roll. We don't cater to any specific group. I hire bands to entertain, not push their views. Our goal is to provide entertainment. We're accused of being racist. We're not racist. I don't put labels on people. You don't know what kinds of bands you got until they get here. We would say no to any group that causes problems."
And the White Power bands don't cause problems? "People are real respectful," he says. "We've had more compliments than complaints."
"We've been doing those kinds of bands for two years now," says Terbay. (He also says he has been present at every White Power gig the Shack has put on.) "We don't believe everything that the people who come into the Shack believe. But it's all about music. We give everybody a chance. We got black rap shows on Thursdays. We got an Oriental fraternity from UC Irvine come in. We never turn anybody away. It's all about business. We'll put on a show by anybody. Hell, I'd even give the people who protest us a show. And we're not racist. I'm full-bred Lebanese. I'm a brown man."
The local racist rock scene exists outside the Shack, of course. There's Radio White, the Orange-based, Internet music website that claims more than 100,000 hits. And there are such local bands as Extreme Hatred, whose Have A Nice Day album features a World War II-era photo of a German soldier shooting a man in the back of the head; superimposed on the soldier's head is a yellow smiley face. OC's Aggressive Force plays such hits as "It's Okay to Be White" and "OC Belongs to Me." And Youngland have this to say on their website: "OC is kind of unique because there are a lot of racialists here that aren't skinheads. We have supporters among the surfer, skater, rockabilly and punk scenes. Although most are not active in the movement, they are always willing to lend a helping fist in time of need."
White Power music is full of lyrics Joseph Goebbels would admire. "We hear the slogan 'White people awake, save our great race' twice per chorus, eight times in total throughout an entire song," wrote Resistance Records founder George Burdi of one track. "And if they play that tape five times a week and just listen to that one song, they're listening 40 times in one week, which means 160 times a month, and you do the math beyond that."
Whether Terbay and Gibson want to admit it, the Shack is now playing a major part in getting out the message. Because of the steady White Power gigs, Nazi/supremacist types have shown up regularly at the Shack on other, non-Nazi nights, giving the impression that outsiders aren't welcome. One young woman says she was at the Shack on a recent weekday night and "bolted out of there once I saw the kind of crowd that was hanging out."