Kansas City's young punks found their only concert hall too oppressive. Now they have to do it themselves.

Rebel Yell 

Kansas City's young punks found their only concert hall too oppressive. Now they have to do it themselves.

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"How long is the dry spell going to last? The first person to get sick of it will be the first person to make something happen," Galloway speculates. "It's just a matter of time."

Saunders has his eye on a wild West Bottoms location. He envisions opening the place in September. To ensure that he meets that deadline, he's already booked a band, Blind Society, for September 1. He says he can't be too specific for fear of jinxing it, but he describes the new space as "El Torreon with air-conditioning and no columns, plus an espresso machine and a Y.J.'s-style snack bar." It's also much more intimate than the behemoth ballroom, and it should be acoustically superior, especially with the new sound system Saunders is assembling. A CD store is on the drawing board as well; its inventory dominates Saunders' living room.

In the next few months, he will work on acquiring the permits required to kick-start a new club. He's witnessed the archaic nature of such requirements firsthand, when El Torreon, lacking a dance-hall permit, was forced for several months in 2000 to discourage those who attended its rock shows with "No dancing" signs that cited the city ordinance.

After seeing Haddad secure an entire wall of permits, Saunders is optimistic about his ability to navigate the bureaucracy. "Their big concerns are no gangsta rap and no raves," he says of City Hall staffers. "They'll know this is something real." Still, he confesses some fear about putting together this project. "It's going to be scary," he says, "and it's not going to be cheap."

However it fares, the new space's fate rests on his shoulders, a responsibility Saunders welcomes. "If it fails, it's my problem," he says. "Everyone who owns a space or runs a space is nuts, and I'm going to join their ranks."

Toth's optimism feels more weathered and weary. He expects new alternative venues to surface, but he's not searching for them -- or even booking shows, except in rare circumstances. These days, he helps younger punks take their first stabs at promotion.

"Punk rock is cool," he says, "but it's not going to change the world."

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