Photo by Jack GouldInsatiably high gas prices, silly-ass rent increases, concerts that cost several days' wages to attend—the world's going to hell! Or at least paying through the hole for the privilege. Yup, we hard-working members of the Konsumer Kulture are being seriously squeezed in these times of doomed first-world economies and presidents who couldn't count to 21 unless they were nekkid. But what of local club owners? How are they handling their jacked-up electric bills, especially since they use vastly larger quantities of juice than you or LowBallAssChatter does? We recently heard that some smaller clubs were forced to scale back their live music to compensate for the utility increases, which only makes sense. Consider: you, mere mortal, have the microwave, the blender, the TV, the boom box, the computer, the DVD player, the bread maker—simple stuff you could do without in the event of a temporary rolling blackout (you can always read a book by candlelight, y'know). Club proprietors, meanwhile, have the sound board, the PA, the microphones, the amps, the light rigs, the air conditioning and a whole slew of plug-in instruments to worry about, not to mention a mob of surly customers in case everything suddenly goes kaput. “I'm scared,” admits Tim Hill of Anaheim all-ages oasis Chain Reaction. “If the power goes out, I'd have to give everyone refunds.” Hill says his electric bill, which had averaged around $500 a month before the current power crisis, has since ballooned past $700 a month. “If I make $2,000 a month in profits, that extra $200 is 10 percent of my club.” Chain Reaction, however, doesn't book shows every night of the week like busy Fullerton jazz club Steamers does. Owner Terence Love has seen his tab jump from roughly $900 a month to a monstrous $1,358 in June alone, a kick he blames partially on the need to keep his customers comfy. “When I've got 150 people in there, especially in the summer, I have to turn up the air conditioning. That's the main expense right there. I keep the lights low and try to conserve where I can, but that last electric bill was almost what my rent is,” he says. Love anticipates no cutbacks in his club's regular music schedule, though. “My trademark for the past seven years has been live jazz, seven nights a week, and people expect that from us. The air conditioning and electric rates are just one of those costs I have to absorb. Business is up 20 percent over last year, and I've got the most popular jazz club in Southern California, so I can't let the electricity rates affect that.” Over at the Gypsy Lounge in Lake Forest, booker Mike Concepcin saw his monthly tab shoot up from $400 to more than $1,000. “I opened it up and thought, 'Whoa, did we miss a bill?'” Concepcin says. Meanwhile, Hill neatly sums up what has to be the consensus among all OC club owners—take this quote and shove it, Edison International: “It's the biggest crock of shit I've ever heard, and everybody knows it. That's what makes it worse.” (Rich Kane)

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