Tune crawl: some regretful evening
7:14pm Mark and James set out on what promises to be an epic night on the town. The plan: to pay a visit to every major music venue in town that we can think of, to scope out the music (and social) scene at each, and have a drink. Here goes.
7:33pm Venue: The Pudhouse.
THE SCENE: Edgy.
A small industrial structure in Belmont where lots of bands have practice spaces. Nothing happens at the Pudhouse until much later than 7:33pm, so it's of course vacant. The evening has begun!
THE MUSIC: The Pudhouse is a true labor of love, bringing Charlottesville punk, hardcore, indie, and other acts that it might have otherwise missed.
THE DRINKS: Only what we brought.
THE DOWNTOWN MALL
7:46pm Venue: Miller's.
THE SCENE: Cheers-like.
Things are still looking pretty family at this early hour. Miller's outside makes for some of the best summertime people-watching; the inside is a railroad-style club with one of Charlottesville's smallest stages tucked into the front bay window. It's probably the best bar on the Downtown Mall, with a healthy mix of locals and UVA-ites on any given night.
THE MUSIC: The rock odyssey that is Boa is on tap for the evening ($3) they started playing some two hours after we left. Miller's is best known for its jazzy John D'earth Thursdays and Jeff Decker Wednesdays, and their weekly lineup also ranges from funk to acoustic to rock.
THE DRINKS: A rum and coke for Mark, two gin and tonics for James. $13.25 with tip, given to the extremely friendly waitress, Anna.
8:38pm Mark talks to some attractive ladies for five and a half minutes; insists that it get mentioned in the article.
8:51pm Venue: Gravity Lounge.
THE SCENE: Mysterious.
It's not really fair to judge, since their opening date was scheduled for June 28, a few days after our crawl. We saw only a few skater kids malingering outside the fairly ominous subterranean entrance under the Foot Locker.
THE MUSIC: Word on the street is that their booking will be largely bluegrass and folkcentric.
THE DRINKS: None
8:58 pm Venue: Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar.
THE SCENE: Artsy-communist.
Tea paraphernalia and paper maché forestry abounds, and the venue is intensely scented, with feel similar to late great Espresso Corner. James has never been here in his life, while Mark's been the past three of three nights.
THE MUSIC: Innerspace was setting up to perform when we arrived– and when we left. An intimate, typically no-cover venue that has been booking some pretty good acoustic shows of late.
THE DRINKS: A seemingly bottomless pot of Cocoa Rooibos tea, which kicked our ass (this was actually the hardest drink to get down the entire evening), for just $4. Intriguing selection of teas and beers too.
9:28pm Venue: Rapture.
THE SCENE: Dudes.
THE MUSIC: No band for the evening. Although they often have Robert Jospé & Inner Rhythm's groove-centric world sound, this night is nowheresville as far as music is concerned. We could not figure out where a band might perform, but we later learn it's to the left of the pool tables.
THE DRINKS: A round of vodka and tonics. $9, tonic fairly flat. In and out in under 10 minutes.
9:43pm We run into fellow music critic Damani Harrison at the Mudhouse. Hip-hop handshakes all around.
9:45pm Venue: Escafé.
THE SCENE: Posh.
Escafé unequivocally grounds the west end of the Mall's restaurant scene: it's filled, the double doors are open, and the place is abuzz. Young professionals abound at Escafé on any given night, talking about their jobs and their problems.
THE MUSIC: None this evening. The Hogwaller Ramblers' weekly Sunday performances are legendary, though.
THE DRINKS: We turn down free drinks in the interest of picking up the pace we've got more than a dozen clubs left.
9:48pm Venue: South Street Brewery.
THE SCENE: Ski-lift-ride-ticket-toting-alumni.
The ski-lodge look is due to the place's exposed wood walls, while the cleanest brewery ever resides behind the bar. Everyone here seems over 30 and pretty well coupled, so logically our conversation is entirely about meat.
THE MUSIC: None for the evening, but the musical selections here usually edge toward the jam band range.
THE DRINKS: Two Satan's Ponies– one of the house brews. "Not bad," says Mark. $8.50 with tip.
10:17pm. Venue: Outback Lodge.
THE SCENE: Locals, mostly.
Oh, it's a lodge all right. A Small, dark bar with a spacious dance floor, and one of the best sound rigs in town.
THE MUSIC: The Casuals (1980s UVA rockers) are throwing a reunion show. The cover is $7 we pass. Music tends to fluctuate between the rock/metal divide. The Outback Lodge has proudly brought Charlottesville such bands as Broadzilla (all-girl metal) and God The Band. Local rockers Monticello Road and the heavy group Lyman appear often.
THE DRINKS: Nada.
10:23pm. Two cop cars and a police van blaze by at 10th and Page scaring the bejesus out of us.
10:30pm. Venue: Wild Wing Café
THE SCENE: Alumni!
Imagine a beautiful old train station turned into a wing-serving sports bar, and, well... there you have it. We both get vigorously carded by an employee and a Charlottesville Police Officer. After being closed for months (a tragic loss for the Charlottesville wing-loving community), they've recently reopened and don't seem a lick different.
THE MUSIC: DJ / Putting a CD on play
THE DRINKS: James downs a Newcastle Brown in record time tasty. $5.
10:42pm. Venue: Starr Hill Music Hall.
THE SCENE: Swank.
Everyone seems to be wearing white-collared shirts, and talking about their cars. The upstairs concert hall has nice wood floors, Persian carpets, and wrought iron railings. Floral arrangements abound downstairs.
THE MUSIC: Gavin DeGraw's in the concert hall for the evening with local singer/songwriter Ezra Hamilton opening ($5), but we're in too big a hurry to attend. Starr Hill's about the biggest musical venue going in town, although with some exceptions (J. Mascis and Frank Black) rock booking is falling by the wayside. But they have a pretty diverse mix of genres otherwise.
THE DRINKS: A Starr Hill Amber for James and a ginger ale for Mark. $5, exceptional service.
10:58pm. Mark proclaims that the Violent Femmes, which happen to be in the CD player, are "the gateway band to the future."
11:00pm. James has begun losing coordination, and finds himself unable to operate power windows. The night is young. Mark has been taking a break from drinking to safety operate his motor vehicle, but soon the beast will be unleashed.
NEAR THE CHICKEN PLACE
11:06pm. Venue: Dürty Nellies
THE SCENE: The Real World
The realest of the real; the dürtiest of the dürty. Might be Charlottesville's most neighborly watering hole not much of a crowd tonight, though.
THE MUSIC: Usually DN's focuses on the rootsy/bluesy aspects of Charlottesville. In one of the rare occurrences of us actually spotting live music, the bluegrassers Hogwaller Ramblers are playing. ("It's the Hogwallers Version 7.3," frontman Jamie Dyer tells us. The fiddler is wearing a Star Trek uniform.) Dyer manages to smoke a cigarette, change at least one broken string, attempt to buy James a beer, and perform a song all at the same time. $3 covers the both of us.
THE DRINKS: A Budweiser for James. $2.50.
11:18pm. James urinates on own foot in parking lot.
11:28pm. A brief stop by Mark's house for munchies (Harris Teeter brand Muchies).
11:35pm. Venue: Baja Bean.
THE SCENE: Navel-gazing
We're getting into Corner crowds now, but it's pretty chill at Baja tonight. Usually a mix of locals and vagrants can be found there. Charlottesville's beloved guitar-cello brainchildren b.c. are in evidence, one at the bar and the other tending it, and the masterful Matthew Wilner's there too.
THE MUSIC: Nothing for the evening. Baja has an open mic night on Monday's that is great, and karaoke on Tuesdays, which isn't.
THE DRINKS: ¡Margaritas, por supuesto! James begins to think we might have left the remaining bars without paying, but vigilant Mark made sure of the monetary exchange.
11:50pm. Venue: Orbit Billiards.
THE SCENE: Social!
It's packed, not surprisingly. Usually the crowd there is of the type mostly found on the Corner: The Polo Shirt Crew. Great on-tap selection, plenty of pool tables. Spacious and airy when the big garage doors are open. As we're on the way out, a wedding party rolls in.
THE MUSIC: Saunter, a jam-funk ensemble from North Carolina is performing. Orbit's musical bookings cut a wide swath across the college bar genres.
THE DRINKS: Two Lefthand Sawtooth Ales from the very gracious Evelyn and Anne. $8.
12:17am. Venue: Michael's Bistro.
THE SCENE: Homey
Classy yet accessible; the crowds here are always pleasant. We converse with bartender Rob about Antarctica.
THE MUSIC: None playing... we think. The Bistro tends towards booking jam bands, jazz, and acoustic stuff.
THE DRINKS: James' handwriting has gotten too illegible to decipher; we believe we had two beers of some sort.
12:28am. Venue: Jaberwoké.
THE SCENE: College!
The crowd's avowedly collegiate; the furnishings look as though they've been discarded from an oversized library. We walk in and someone immediately breaks a glass.
THE MUSIC: We have no idea who it was. No one's within 30 feet of the stage, and the crowd seems pretty ambivalent.
THE DRINKS: We flee the scene, as if we needed another beer anyway.
12:31am. Venue: Coupe DeVille's.
THE SCENE: Crowded
Coupe's is the only place in town that's had a line. They probably have lines at 7am on Wednesdays, mostly composed of frat guys and sorority girls– woo! We press on.
THE MUSIC: We aren't able to determine who's playing.
THE DRINKS: Eh
12:37am. Venue: The Prism Coffeehouse.
THE SCENE: Erudite
Listen, we're moving geographically, okay? The Prism closes for the summer from late-May to mid-September we roll by just to pay homage. It's Charlottesville's most intimate venue, certainly. The living room/coffeehouse atmosphere is tops.
THE MUSIC: The array of old-time, bluegrass, and folk that director Fred Boyce brings to town is first-rate.
THE DRINKS: Coffee is the Prism mainstay.
12:49am. Venue: Tokyo Rose.
THE SCENE: Bladerunner-esque
Best sushi in town, trendy crowds, beautiful wait staff. Shows are in the dim, red-walled basement.
THE MUSIC: Saturday night's The Dawning, and they're having a special Summer Solstice party with DJ's Xiam and Rite. Other nights of the week are indie rock, hardcore, punk, this and that. Weekly upstairs shows are usually jazz and acoustic.
THE DRINKS: Irish Carbombs. Worst... idea... ever. Mark's friend Jack helps us out with finishing them, and also Jack pays for them. David Cruz-Palmer mans the bar and generously refills our water glasses. The evening has come to its expected conclusion– almost every venue in town has been at least once-overed and many, many brain cells are now dead.
1:42am. Mark and James get a ride back to Jack's place; James blissfully passes out on the bathroom floor, content with the knowledge of a job well done. Ah, journalism!