When The Mystic Roots Band flew from San Diego to grace the stage of Liquids Nightclub in Kihei on Nov. 14, they couldn’t have imagined what awaited them. Five days later they left Maui without the money they’d been promised and $1,000 in the hole. Liquids owner Oliver Lum had disappeared with their cash.
The band performed just four nights after the now-infamous Mos Def debacle, which had a chilling effect on Mystic Roots’ ticket sales. After their performance, Lum said he wasn’t able to make enough money to cover the band’s performance fee.
Mystic Roots agreed to give Lum until the next day to get the rest of the money. But the next morning band member Coot Wyman’s calls to Lum went unanswered.
“He really screwed us over pretty bad,” Wyman said 11 days after the show. “He still won’t answer our calls.”
According to Wyman, the contract between Mystic Roots and Liquids stipulated that Lum would cover inter-island travel expenses and Maui accommodations for the band’s four-island tour, along with a standard performance fee. When Wyman was asked to provide a credit card at the hotel to cover incidentals he thought nothing of it.
“Oliver told me that he would go down and take care of it before we left,” Wyman said. “But then we didn’t hear from him for five days.”
When the band checked out, the hotel charged the only card they had on file: Wyman’s. The $1,000 charge came the same day his rent was due. Overdraft fees started piling up. Then his rent check bounced.
“I could understand if the guy was struggling,” Wyman said. “He just started the club. But for me to have to pay for the [hotel] rooms—that’s just ridiculous.”
On the fifth day Wyman dialed *67 to block his number from showing up on Lum’s phone. To Wyman’s surprise, Lum picked up.
“He said he had been in a severe car accident,” Wyman said. That was the reason he hadn’t answered the phone earlier.
Maui Memorial Medical Center has no record of Lum as a recent patient. Kaiser declined to verify if he was receiving care, citing privacy concerns. Wyman was skeptical an accident had ever taken place.
Calls to Lum’s phone, which was recently reconnected, have gone unanswered. Attempts to locate Ryan Fukushima, Lum’s business partner, have proved fruitless. Calls to the Liquids phone number still get a voicemail message regarding the still-pending Mos Def refunds.
“It really left a bad taste in our mouths,” Wyman said.
In the little more than six months since the club opened its doors, Liquids has managed to burn quite a few bridges. Many are still fuming over the Mos Def show that never happened.
In fact, ticket-buyers to that show are still waiting for their promised refunds. After a few hours of waiting that night, someone announced that Mos Def would not perform. Customers were then asked to line up and write their names and phone numbers in a spiral bound notebook. The refunds were on their way, they were told, they would be called in a few days. That was nearly a month ago.
In the meantime, local publications—including this one—now refuse to publicize Liquids shows. Several blogs are calling for a boycott of the club.
According to an official with the county Department of Liquor Control who asked for anonymity, the agency “does not regulate those sorts of things.” Similarly, Kihei police Captain Milton Matsuoka called the affair “a civil matter.” But he also encouraged people to call and file complaints since there’s a chance it could turn into a criminal matter. MTW