So last night was THE final show at Avalon Bar as we know it. As of this week, Costa Mesa's hole-in-the-wall punk palace with the finest sangria in town is shuttered, awaiting a revamp that we will have more news about very shortly.
But there's no question that the final gig was the same crowded, brown-baggin', sweaty-ass affair to which you've grown accustomed for decades. But usually we're prepared to walk in to find slightly more familiar surroundings (i.e. some dirt bag metal band or howling punks thrashing their guitars indiscriminately in the corner with crappy PA). But last night's show– a RVCA-sponsored event featuring Slime Kings, Slasher, Rankin and more–brought out a young 21ish surfer crowd that seemed less-than aware of the gravity of what they were leaving behind when they stumbled out of the bar for the last time.
The bar built by deceased punk pioneer Mike Conley of M.I.A., is a longtime stronghold for scrappy local bands and is home to plenty of punk lore that most crusty punkers worth their salt will recount for you over a 40oz of Mickeys. This wasn't really that kind of crowd, but despite our sangria buzz we decided to go up to a few people and ask how they felt about the end of Avalon. Here's what they said (please excuse my crappy photos).
Johnny On The Spot (he swears that's his real name, guys):
I love this place, but not enough to really come here that often. I live right across the street and I have so many good bars to go to. But the new crew that re-opens it will be amazing, just because they've got a really good following. It's gonna be good. I-i-i-it's gonna be good.
Raggedy Andy (on the right–also swears this is his real name. Creative!)
I grew up down the street. I fucking hate this place…I haven't been here in like six months. This place is a fucking joke and they wanna put on this fucking show, like “oohhh, this is the last show. You know how many times this place has put on their last show? Three times. It's fucking stupid.
Brin Erin (now that sounds like a believable name)
This is my first time here, actually. But people seem to be enjoying themselves. I wish I was two years younger and slightly drunker.
Alex Knost (of Tomorrow's Tulips)
Like anything in life, things come and go. But Mike Conley was such a beautiful person and he worked hard to keep this bar as beautiful and unique as he possibly could. He put his heart and soul into this bar and I'm a big, big fan of Mike Conley. He let me in here for the first time when I was 18 and he let me stay in here even though he knew I was underage because I showed up on a skateboard. It was the first bar I ever got drunk in.
But [Mike] was a genuine sweetheart, a real stand-up guy. He was really interested in the subculture of music and people who were enthusiastic about music and having a sort of community. It's sad to see it close. But I think a lot of people, including his widow worked hard to keep the place alive as long as they possibly could. But all good things must pass. I saw some of the best local musicians I know play here…Matt McClure, the Blank Tapes, the Flying Saucers–they were playing here when it was just a hole in the wall bar. It's nice to see everyone have a lot of respect for what Mike did.
Brittney King (bartender):
It's a sad feeling because there's so many people that love the place and the atmosphere and the music. I'm pretty sad too.
Every other person I talked to that looked barely old enough to be in the bar: Oh my god, this place is clooooossiiiiiinngggg?!?!?! Dude, that sucks.