The Drama of 1020J

The situation is interesting enough.

The Drama

The Drama

There are plenty of bands looking for venues in Sacramento and (some would have it) not enough venues to house them all. From the bands’ perspective, this creates a difficult booking situation. Top local venues can be tough nuts to crack for up-and-coming bands.

Enter 1020J, a new live music venue that opened its doors last weekend. During the daylight hours the venue is known as Bean Heads, a popular coffee shop a stone’s throw from Cesar Chavez Park. Bean Heads owners Melissa Allen and Sergio Barrios became interested in the idea of booking live music because of the limited number of venues in town. The couple asked Joe Gregory, a Bean Heads employee and frontman of Sacramento area band the Drama, if he would be interested in building a stage and booking live music.

Gregory jumped at the chance. His own band tours more often than it plays local shows, in part because of the lack of good booking opportunities in Sacramento. “We’d meet great bands on the road who would want to play Sacramento and we didn’t know what to tell them,” Gregory explains. “Hopefully we’ll be bringing some of those bands to town now.”

It’s a classic story of “if you build it, they will come” and in fact they did come. On opening night the Drama shared a bill with the Pretty Girls and Pocket Change. 1020J wasn’t exactly packed, but enough teens and 20-something music fans showed up to make it all seem worthwhile to the owners, who beamed with obvious excitement. The Drama was particularly impressive. The trio features, in addition to Joe Gregory on guitar and vocals, Chris Over on bass and Jess Gowrie on drums, and manages to display a fierce understanding of emotional power and sonic intensity onstage—performing one moment broodingly quiet, the next explosively loud, all the while wearing their gothic black and pale complexions like badges of entry into a 1988 nightmare. But despite their obvious love of 1980s bands like Joy Division, the Cure and the Pixies, the Drama took these retro influences into a distinctly progressive space. It’s a band to watch.

As for 1020J, there is still some work to be done. For example, there are no stage lights and watching bands perform under the coffee-shop lighting leaves much to be desired. There’s also no beer license, no stage monitors and very limited space. On the other hand, 1020J is a new venue just starting to work out its physical space and purpose and these things will (one hopes) become clear in time.

In the meantime, this Saturday brings Dusty Brown, Deimos, and Los Halos to the 1020J stage. Shows start at 8 p.m.

The news is true that Sacramento’s foremost girl-power rock ’n’ roll band, the Skirts, are calling it quits. The band has been together for five years (the current lineup for half that time) and the split is amicable. The good news is that fans will be treated to one last show, date and location still pending. Check for breaking news.