By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
At a June 18 performance at Fort Worth's Ridglea Theater, The Commercials announced that they have indeed officially changed their name to Jet, as was reported in Street Beat two weeks ago. The group will perform under the new name for the first time on July 30 at Bar of Soap, a few weeks before releasing its third album, this one on its own recently resurrected label, Space Age Records. The new disc will be the band's first since parting ways with MCA Records, shortly after the label issued 1997's The Twelve-Point Master Plan.
Before a recent gig at Club Clearview, frontman Hop Manski and drummer Rob Avsharian explained that the group's new moniker will actually be something more along the lines of The Adventures of Jet, but added that they doubt anyone will use the entire name. For those still a little behind, The Commercials used to be called Bobgoblin -- releasing an album in 1994 called Jet -- until the band, which also features guitarist Jason Weisenburg and bassist Tony Janotta, decided to swap names after leaving MCA. One more time with a flowchart, maybe?
In a way, it's fitting that The Commercials made the announcement at the Ridglea Theater, because the retro-styled venue has also undergone a number of changes lately. Known mainly for its Pink Floyd laser light shows and midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the Ridglea began hosting live music every Friday and Saturday a few months ago, and recently added a new music showcase on Wednesday nights. Handling booking duties is Melissa Kirkendall, who has served in that capacity at a number of clubs in Fort Worth, including Madhatter's, The Engine Room, The Atomic Café and Electron Lounge, and The Satellite Dish, several of which she co-owned. As it happens, Kirkendall almost has an anti-Midas touch when it comes to nightclubs, since most of the ones she has been associated with have either closed or stopped hosting live music.
Of course, the Ridglea Theater has a better chance of succeeding, with ample parking, no grumpy roommates, and a location that Fort Worth police aren't as likely to harass. The theater isn't without its drawbacks -- the large hall doesn't have the best acoustics, and the sound guy is still getting used to working with live bands instead of pre-recorded tapes of '70s rock. But at least it provides some needed competition to The Wreck Room, whose recent Weener show boasted a grand total of two audience members, not counting the occasional barfly wandering in looking for the bathroom. The theater's biggest problem seems to be the inevitable odds-and-rockers rumble between the new-rock crowd and the Rocky Horror fans. And, boy, we would love to see that.