Lettuce Finish: Rock show at Tasty Burger gets unexpectedly shut down by venue during opening band’s set

NOTE: This post was updated at 3:12pm EST

A live show at Tasty Burger was cut short during the opening band’s set last night over a dispute about volume, and possibly attendance. Boston-based event production team Eye Design had booked a show with Zip-Tie Handcuffs, Idiot Genes, and Canada’s Dirty Nil at the downstairs room of the Harvard Square burger joint, but the venue’s management pulled the plug eight songs into the opening band’s set. Tasty Burger says it was more about the acoustics in the room, and the attitudes of the bands involved.

“The owner wanted us to turn down the music because he thought it was too loud [and] some of his diners left,” says Ian David McGregor of Eye Design in a statement to Vanyaland, which he later posted to Facebook. “We really couldn’t do much about the volume so he made us make Zip-Tie Handcuffs stop playing in the middle of their set. Leaving Idiot Genes and the Dirty Nil (from Canada) unallowed to play.”

Some of those involved with the show suspect that its abrupt end had more to do with the amount of people in the room. McGregor estimated there were maybe 50 people there by the time Zip-Tie Handcuffs went on stage. Tasty Burger Manager Brian Reyelt says he saw 75 people walk out of the room because of loud music and poor sound quality. There was no working sound man on duty.

Tasty Burger just started featuring live music at its Cambridge location a few weeks ago after constructing a small stage in the back-end of its basement.

“I can’t 100 percent confirm that the reason behind being cut was because of the room not being full, [but] that’s what I heard from Kyle from Idiot Genes,” says Zip-Tie Handcuff’s Matthew Ford. “Kyle told me that the manager said he was expecting the show to be like when Speedy Ortiz played a couple weeks ago, and it would have been OK if the night was like that (meaning a packed house).”

McGregor also says the room was double-booked last night, meaning his Eye Design show was pushed back to 11pm. A Shorewave Records showcase was also scheduled for last night, and that show took place before Eye Design’s. Because of the mix-up, and because the Shorewave show was free, McGregor made his show free to avoid confusion at the door.

“So we had to sit through another show and wait to play,” he adds. “The owner from Tasty tells me “I’m trying to run a restaurant not a venue” and [for me to] get my own venue. He then quietly asked us not to wreck the place and he would give money for the band from Canada. He basically [tried] to pay everyone off.”

Reyelt says the night was a “clusterfuck” from the beginning, when the venue learned the night was double-booked by an independent promoter. He also says sound volume and quality was an issue, and the problems started when the Eye Design show started. “It’s not a nightclub, it’s a restaurant, and I’ll be the first to admit it needs more soundproofing and someone to pay attention to the bass, the guitars,” Reyelt tells Vanyaland. “When I confronted the bands about it, they were like ‘Fuck you, it’s a rock show.’ And I said ‘I just watched 75 people walk out of my restaurant because you’re too loud!'”

Reyelt says he apologized personally to the touring band from Canada and gave them $100. But he also alleges someone from Idiot Genes got on the mic, called him a “faggot” and yelled things like “Fuck Tasty Burger.” Reyelt also says someone from Idiot Genes vandalized the room using a Sharpie on the doors, elevator, and window, and drew a penis on the bathroom wall.

“Combining everything from double booking to people not respecting the room, it was a mess,” Reyelt says. “But at the end of the day I have a business to run.”

Ford says the entire thing was “executed extremely poorly,” while they scrambled to find a basement or DIY space for the touring band to play, that didn’t materialize because it was close to midnight when things came to a halt.

“At the very end of the night, the manager said he was sorry, and I just said that we really didn’t know why that happened, and didn’t expect it, and all he said is that’s not what he expected either, and left it at that,” says Ford. “Overall it was very weird, unorganized, and unexpected. It just seems like they really have no idea what it is to run a show somewhere. I just felt really bad for the touring band, I guess they received some money, but they never got to play a single note.”

McGregor tells Vanyaland that his planned shows this Friday and Saturday night are cancelled, and he’s currently looking for a new room to house them. The next live show at Tasty is Wednesday, with Fat Creeps, Bent Shapes, and Philadelphia’s Bleeding Rainbow, presented by Boston Hassle.

Reyelt says all scheduled shows will go on as planned.