Death of Freedom

Tempe's long-reigning dance oasis shuts its doors

Jello's unexpected appearance definitely bodes well for Ziggy's future. As Shelton says, "If you're trying to do a new punk rock club, to have Jello Biafra show up is about the ultimate. If we wanted to plan a publicity stunt, we couldn't have in a million years come up with something better."

Shelton's influence is evident already, just seven weeks after he joined Josh Bartosh as a partner in the venture. Where ASU's maroon and gold once prevailed, now red and orange flames -- a signature Shelton motif -- are dominant, covering the wall behind the stage. A painting of a piranha with an engine as a dorsal fin hangs facing the bar, eight-ball stick shift gleaming in the water. Shelton, who owns a hot-rod-influenced custom furniture joint called Jake's Chop Shop, also has his own creations lurking around Ziggy's, like the couch made of a classic car's rear end with cushions where the trunk would be, and an amoeba-like coffee table decorated with flames.

Ziggy's Rock & Roll Lounge incarnation isn't like any bar Tempe's seen -- though it's starting to bear a resemblance to Shelton's former endeavor, a hot-rod-themed bar and restaurant called Fireballz in Richmond, Virginia (you can peep Fireballz decor in a virtual tour at Ziggy's heart's in the right place, with a free North Carolina pit-cooked pulled barbecue buffet on Sundays when Busted Hearts plays its weekly gig, and live rock bands most nights of the week.

It's yet to be seen if the fickle rawk scene will adopt Ziggy's as its own or abandon it after the novelty of a rock club on the Valley's most homogenized street wears off.


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