Sunday, August 17, 2008

I Wanna Be Sedated

Our generation and those that will follow us have had and will have the luxury that our parents nor grandparents were unable to experience. If at any time we are unsatisfied with our lot we can without any real effort redefine and reinvent ourselves. Don't like that office job balancing columns of numbers? Not to can start your own business or go back to school or drop-out or whatever. We don't necessarily have to choose wisely because most likely we are not going to be toiling at the same job and the same place for forty some odd years. Employment has become much more transient. What we did straight out of university will not necessarily be what we are doing by the time our twentieth year reunion rolls around.

I haven't always worked in an office supporting computer software. Less than a decade ago, I owned my own business - a 100 seat bar that was primarily a live entertainment venue for the local punk rock bands. Those literally were the days. We were absolutely depraved during this time. It was one never ending party which we were able to float with relative ease because of the success of the bar. We always had cash on hand and with that cash we bought copious amounts of dope - I actually hired my dealer to be my doorman so we never even had to travel any distance to cop! Very convenient. But, I those stories are for another day.

And I have many stories to tell of my days as a bar maid but I thought that I would wet your appetite with a review of my establishment that was published originally in my local paper.

Hit-and-miss funk of ******* Lounge worth checking out. CLUB SPY 1998-07-17

There are a few places in town I wouldn't recommend to anyone and there are a few places I'd say you simply shouldn't miss. The trouble is, I don't know in which category to place ******* Lounge.

For years, I've been a semi-regular patron of the *******. If you've never heard of it, that's OK. It's the smaller lounge directly beside the ******* on Dundas Street East and it's used to taking a back seat to the more prominent bands that play the larger room next door.

I'm not sure how to categorize the ******* because while I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of live music, it certainly isn't suited to everyone's taste. But, like sushi or bungee jumping, it's the kind of thing you should probably try at least once, if for no other reason than to say you did.

At first glance, the ******* Lounge might not seem like much to look at, but it's the kind of place that has a strange way of growing on you. The decor is 1960's mod and you can tell that when it was first built, it was the kind of place where Austen Powers might have liked to hang out. The room is long and thin with funky lighting. The bar itself is also quite long with puffy vinyl padding that's both cheesy and comfortable. Most everything in the ******* Lounge has seen a better day, but to renovate would be to lose some of its strange appeal.

For years the ******* Lounge has been a kind of proving ground for undiscovered and burgeoning talent. You'll find live entertainment there almost seven days a week. Its stock and trade is punk rock and many bands have names like Eating Disorder or Urban Goons, but the lounge also features just as many solo and acoustic performers, many of whom are from well-known bands trying out new material.

For example, Bill Eldridge, lead singer for Laughing Sam's Breakdown and formerly of Ten Seconds Over Tokyo, appears there Monday. His solo show is remarkable.


In my travels, I've seen my fair share of talentless wonders hit the stage, but at the same time I've seen just as many fresh and remarkably unique performers. And if you're lucky, you might see someone on their way up.

One evening I was introduced to an up-and-coming singer songwriter performing an acoustic show. I was duly impressed with his material and rightly so. His name was Hayden and a couple of months later, he signed a six-figure recording contract with a major record label.

That being said, I should also say that the size of the crowd has no relative bearing on the talent of the performer. Hayden's audience could not have been more than a half-dozen or so.

The same goes for my visit there last Saturday. Performing was Jennifer Mclaren, who, without a doubt, is one of the city's finest singers and most under appreciated talents. She played a knockout solo set to about a dozen people, several of whom wandered back and forth from the show at the ******* next door.

Beer at the ******* sells for $3.25, draft for $1.75 a half-pint, $3.25 for a pint and $9.50 a pitcher. Bar shots are $3.50.

I can say this much: You can't judge the ******* Lounge by one visit. The nature of the place is hit-and-miss. But, like London's weather, things change overnight and the next time you're in, you might well be amazed.

The ******* Lounge certainly isn't everybody's cup of tea and even for those who enjoy it, it isn't a place you'd go all the time. But if you're in the mood for something different, it's worth checking out. You just never know who might be there. 3*** out of 5*****

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