The Boston Herald (8.8.98)

PLACES; Stuffed to the gills with creatures from the deep

By Robin Vaughan

Offer several hundred people three hours of open-bar, buffet-grazing bliss at a sleek new waterfront seafood restaurant, and they will come, with appetites like piranha.

On July 29, Atlantic 101 owner John Hauck (former co-owner of Beacon Hill's chi-chi Ristorante Toscana) learns this lesson the hard way. Half an hour into the restaurant's Wednesday evening opening party, the white-linen buffet tables are laid waste by a mob of more than 500 friends, foodies, politicos and prominent North Enders.

Ladies with big diamond rings are clawing through piles of empty clam shells. Liver-spotted gentlemen in smart sport jackets maneuver for position at the raw bar; gangs of yuppies patrol the rooms, scanning the barren lettuce beds for morsels of fish. In one corner, a fresh tray of caviar crostini sets off a feeding frenzy.

A waitress bearing a tray of baked brie is flanked by two old ladies as tenacious as pilot fish. Champagne corks are popping; the lines at the bar are five-deep. But somehow, it never gets ugly. People are making jokes, sharing tips on seafood sightings. "I saw crab cakes," a woman reports to a stranger. "And I heard there were clams casino going around."

Hauck, his wife, his son, his son's friend, and a handful of helpful civilians are soon rolling up their shirtsleeves in the kitchen, helping the staff to replenish the bottomless buffet. By the time they call it a night, 45 minutes after the party is scheduled to end, the food-and-drink toll is staggering. It includes: 75 pounds of lobster meat; 300 oysters; 750 clams; 15 pounds of mussels; 360 shrimp; 100 crab claws; 20 pounds of smoked fish; three whole salmon; 22 bottles of liquor; seven cases of champagne; 22 cases of wine; 40 pounds of fruit and cheese; 876 cookies and 100 chocolate-covered strawberries.

"Helluva party. When I finally saw the list, I just about fell over," Hauck comments later, with a laugh. "And that wasn't even everybody. There was a list of another 150 people who never received their invitations including the landlord. Now we're trying to figure out what to do about that."

"Is there a Mr. Dylan Thomas in the house?" John Cale says, opening the Sunday night set at the Roxy with a recitation of the poet's ode to callous youth, "Lament." The lines about his "skulking, coal-black soul" might arouse the interest of the black-lipsticked contingent of tonight's crowd, but for some, this portion of the John Cale and the Creatures show is something to be endured while waiting for Siouxsie to appear.

"I'm not too big on this guy," says a youth wrapped in chains and black mesh, his eyes glazing over as Cale hammers his Kurzweil. The Cale-Creatures pairing brings in an odd mix of mullets, mohawks, and salt-and-pepper beards. There are old Banshees fans from way back, baby boomers of Velvet Underground vintage, young Goths in priest cassocks. On the whole, they respond enthusiastically to Cale's cerebral turns, but when the fabulous Siouxsie Sioux arrives - all long limbs, shiny black vinyl, spit-curl sideburns and the famous Cleopatra eyeliner -- the show kicks into its groove.

With the backing Creatures (including drummer Budgie) as a constant, Siouxsie and Cale pair up and separate for various segments of the set, an absorbing mesh of torchy noir and rock, fresh material and old chestnuts, that culminates first with a strobe-blitzed rendition of "Exterminating Angel" (Cale on violin, Budgie up front pounding a tom-tom) and then with an inspired "Venus in Furs" encore.

In the end, everybody seems satisfied. "I felt bad for (Cale) because nobody knew who he was," 21-year-old Goth Erin Fox says. "He had some interesting ideas, though."

Jay Reeg, who has "met everyone in the Velvet Underground, and Andy Warhol," and first saw the Banshees back in 1979, comments that "this is an oldies act by any other name." He flips open the paperpack copy of "Great Gatsby" he's been carrying (his bookmark is the cassette cover of Cale's "Fear") and reads, "'Can't repeat the past?' he asked incredulously. 'Why, of course you can."' He adds, "I work at Digital, so I'll be getting laid off at the end of the month; but my 2-year-old daughter knows who Andy Warhol is, so all's well with the world."

Contributed by Jerry Burch.

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