This edition of Aural Sex is close to my
loins heart because a) it's the first music post of the new decade and b) my birthday is tomorrow! Let's just say I'll be 21...again...a few times over. No, just kidding. I'm really fucking old.
To celebrate the centennial of my birth, my brother flew in to keep me company and steal some of my cake. He actually came in from a trip to Vegas, and apparently had an awesome time since he kept forwarding me pictures of his weekend of debauchery. I totally would not have been surprised if he had shown up with a contract to direct porn. He's stealth like that.
The only good thing about being trapped on the Worst Coast for my birthday is that there are some relatively decent places to hang out, and they're all music venues. Since I'll be stuck out West, I figure that I can at least engage in an enjoyable activity. Since I'll be venue hopping all week, I'm devoting this month's Aural Sex to clubs all over the US that guarantee the most gratifying nights out- the ones that showcase the most talented (or at the very least, entertaining) artists, draw the most diversified and intriguing crowds, feature the best food and drink combinations, etc.
THE DRUNKEN UNICORN
I discovered this place when I was stuck in Atlanta due to a layover on the way to Florida. The "Hotlanta" music scene is generally known for hip-hop and rap, so I was a little hesitant to actively seek out a live show, but there were so many Braves fans at the Hartsfield-Jackson airport that I was ready to flip the fuck out. I had to get out of there.
I don't remember the name of the band that was playing, but the bar itself is a hole-in-the wall shithouse that's perfect for the indie acts it supports. There's no sign for the club, and they don't have a phone. I only found The DU because I got pizza right next door. The venue is like a little intimate garage that fills up really fast. The crowd is supportive and the artists are great. The DU is also very friendly to tours- this week alone they're hosting acts from Knoxville, TN and Boston, MA.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Friday, January 14th. There's a band called 1880's Dance Party and another that defines themselves as "orchestral electronic." I'm intrigued.
This is straight-up one of the most amazing cities in the country, and probably the world, for live music. Not only does it host South by Southwest every year, but venues are packed until closing every night of the week, and there's something for fans of every single genre. Expect more on my Austin jaunt in a future post, but for now, I'll just give you the groundwork:
I fell in love with this place. If it were possible to marry and impregnate a building, I'd totally already be on that. I went on a Monday night and it was so full in there I could barely move. Then I ventured outside to the second stage and it was just as crowded.
Despite the name, Emo's is Austin's resident hardcore rock venue- when I went it happened to be a night featuring all punk, and the bartenders were dressed for the part. The drinks were in plastic cups and they were cheap, and there was an actual cigarette machine INSIDE THE BAR!
The best part about Austin's music scene is that there is no dress code- everyone was in leather, ripped jeans, sneakers and anything else that would give your relatives a heart attack if you wore it to your cousin's wedding. Don't get any ideas. The bands played until the 2am close, and even though I had to get up at 5:30am to catch my flight, I totally lost track of time and didn't even realize how late it was. Emo's is probably one of the most unpretentious venues I've ever been to. The next time I'm in Austin (and there WILL be a next time), I'm definitely going back.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Friday, January 14th. It's the Girl Talk Official After Party with Javelin.
HOLE IN THE WALL
Not just a clever name. Hole In The Wall is an alt-rock/country bar with food until midnight and free music during the week. They close at 3, so it's a great after-party stop once you're winding down after your 57th beer at Emo's.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Saturday, January 15th. Three killer bands are playing and the cover is only 5 big ones.
There are so many stellar rock venues in the Boston area that I don't even know where to start. The only drawback with most of these places is that since Boston has about 1,000 colleges and universities, the crowd is super young. However, it could be really fun to watch 19-year-olds get their ID's taken away, then stumble around looking for another place to drunkenly grope each other.
Here's a list of my favorite venues in the Boston area. Keep in mind I don't remember much about actually being there.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Thursday, January 13th. Bear Hands is playing!
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Wednesday, January 12th. Because it's my birthday, and I need to live vicariously through you guys.
THE MIDDLE EAST
There are four separate rooms, each with their own calendar. It's impossible to get bored here, unless you're a whiny bitch.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Sunday, January 16th. Cracker performs. CRACKER. I'll let that sink in as I go play the entire "Kerosene Hat" album on my iPod.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Get over there tonight. There's a band called Zip-Tie Handcuffs (Best. Name. Ever.) performing their rendition of Green Day's Dookie.
PARADISE ROCK CLUB
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Just go to the website and pick a day to come in this week- every show they have sounds epic.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Sunday, January 16th. If you have a vinyl collection, show up at 3pm and share your records with the other rockoholics.
TT THE BEAR'S
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Pick any day this week- you'll get a good dose of underdiscovered rock.
THE SQUEALING PIG
The best thing about The Squealing Pig is that their rock bands perform on Saturdays, so touring artists really have a shot here. PS- it's free!
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: They don't have their calendar up, so just go there, hang out and listen to whoever's on stage.
All their drink specials are named after classic rock singles. I recommend the Pretty Vacant.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Thursday, January 13th. It's their 5-year Anniversary Party. Try to ignore all the college students running around. (Remember, that was you once!)
*Special thanks to Ginntastic for providing me with even more knowledge- and hydration- about the Boston music scene. I guess it pays to have "Gin" in your name.
THE EMPTY BOTTLE
The Empty Bottle has an adorable picture of a puppy at the top of its home page, but that's not why I chose to feature this place. OK, that's not the only reason. This is a fantastic venue that regularly showcases criminally under-appreciated artists of every genre. If you're a fan of jazz, you can also check out their Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music every spring.
The Empty Bottle has a cafe that stays open relatively late and offers a diverse menu that I would normally stay away from because the food is pretty healthy, but they do have mac and cheese, which guarantees that I'll be eating there. Obesity FTW!
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Saturday, January 15th. My friends in Color Radio play their first show of the new decade, and maybe if you mention how much you worship my blog, they may drop one of the tracks from their upcoming LP.
LOS ANGELES, CA
I begrudgingly include LA in here because it IS one of the music capitals of the world. There are some OK places to get your band booked, so I guess I have to throw it in. Most of the shows here are pretty expensive though- a lot of them fall into the $12-$15 range.
THE VIPER ROOM
The Viper Room isn't just the place that used to be partially owned by Johnny Depp and where River Phoenix OD'd back in the 80's. It's still one of the country's premier rock clubs. The interior is almost all black and the drinks are strong, which lends to the ambience.
Bonus for dudes: The cocktail waitresses are all dressed pretty skanky, so there's that, if you go for that kind of thing.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Wednesday, January 12th. I'll probably be there at some point. I have a couple of friends that work there, and they'll give me the lowdown.
The Troub is my favorite of all the music venues in the LA area. They book the most talented artists, have the best tasting food, and no one there will give you crabs just from looking at them. I don't think. The seating is comfortable, too, so you're not shifting ass cheeks every five minutes.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Sunday, January 16th. Two of my favorite local bands, The Ruby Friedman Orchestra and Eastern Conference Champions, are performing for free. Together. Happy birthday to me!
(Thanks to Ruby for being my unpaid publicist, BTW. Do you accept payment in cookies? Or unicorns?)
The Exit/In is awesome. If you just look at their events calendar, the names of the bands they book make it worth the trip, even if said bands are actually terrible (I like "Sore Eyes"). The Exit/In is so beloved by people in Nashville that when it was forced to close due to the recession, it was immediately repurchased by a new owner. The club has been around for 40 years and is still the premier rock club of Nashville.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: There are a bunch of great shows to check out this week. I would say the best one is on Saturday, January 15th, when The Walkmen take the stage.
NEW ORLEANS, LA
Writing about NOLA makes me sad because I keep promising Nips that I'll come hang out with her and I haven't done it yet. I'm sorry, Nips. I swear I'm not a bitch. I hope you'll give me my pants back now (or not).
Anyway, I've never been there, so this comes recommended by four out of five doctors. And by doctors, I mean friends who went to NOLA years ago and got so hammered I'm shocked they could even tell me the name of this place.
THE HOWLIN' WOLF
Apparently, my friends went to New Orleans and got wasted looking for a bar that played really good rock music, and this was it. It also has a $5 dollar comedy night on Thursdays.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: For the Comedy Gumbeaux on Thursday, January 13th. If you happen to see a really tall, blond guy wearing an Orioles hat and making an ass of himself (although I think the two are probably mutually exclusive), that's my friend Dan. He's probably into his fifth beer. Be sure to trip him, then laugh.
NEW YORK CITY, NY
At this point in my life I've probably been to every single music venue in New York City. I won't bore you by declaring my adoration for NYC again, and I honestly can't pick a favorite, so I'll just list the ones I love best here.
Ask for Alex at the door. He knows what's going down. I should also let you know that the venue is also only a couple of blocks away from Rosario's, the second-best pizza place in NYC, and it's right near Katz's Deli, home of the most delicious kugel known to man.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Monday, January 17th. Every Monday, Arlene's Grocery has free admission AND Rock and Roll Karaoke.
THE BOWERY BALLROOM
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Sunday, January 16th. It's the only night that's not sold out- that's how cool this place is.
THE BOWERY ELECTRIC
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Wednesday, January 12th, when the venue spotlights up-and-coming singer/songwriters in their Light of Day showcase. It starts at 6:30pm, so there's plenty of time to catch some other shit afterwards, too.
Live music, bowling AND fried chicken? Is that even legal? PS- check out their dessert menu.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Um, you did hear me say fried chicken, right? There are a lot of awesome shows this week, but the best (and cheapest) is probably Chris Keating from Yeasayer performing his live DJ set on Saturday, January 15th.
Cake Shop is really supportive of their artists- they'll sell their merchandise and even have a record label.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Come on Thursday, January 13th, when Grandfather and I'm In You both show up.
Recently voted NYC's "Best Rock Venue," and with good reason. When you get there, ask for Andre- he knows what's up.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Friday, January 14th, for the "Black and Blue Bash." Dress for the theme and get shots for a dollar.
There are three levels with three bars. So if you get cut off at one, just go to the next level. Hahaha... you drunk.
I'm practically a regular at this place. If you ever go here, ask for Jasper. He books the talent, and he'll tell you who's good.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Saturday, January 15th. They're bringing in a DJ for a "London Club Night" and playing only UK "kill yourself" tunes.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Friday, January 14th. Cracker is playing. I know I already mentioned them back when I was shilling for Boston, but if I could see them play, I would.
THE KNITTING FACTORY
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Right now. There's a local band showcase going on, and supporting unsigned, hard working talent gets babies into Heaven.
LE POISSON ROUGE
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Thursday, January 13. Wakey!Wakey! is playing.
THE MERCURY LOUNGE
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: There's a free show tonight by a band I've never heard of. It doesn't cost anything, so you may as well check it out.
Sullivan Hall has one of the better sound systems in the West Village and is one of the most popular spots for charity events and benefits. They're also one of the only venues in NYC that cater to cover/tribute acts as well as original bands and artists. Ask for Jen at the door.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Friday, January 14th. There's a No Doubt tribute band set to go on, and as long as they stick to Tragic Kingdom and Return of Saturn, you should be golden.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: It's too bad next week's Broken Social Scene is sold out, because they are insane live and everyone should go see them. Other than that, the venue doesn't have their shows listed, but they're pretty expensive anyway.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: I LOATHE their stupid song almost as much as I hate Miley Cyrus, but I guess I should mention that Neon Trees is playing on Friday, January 14th.
OK, let's move on.
Philly is probably second only to New York City in terms of places I won't shut up about for its live music scene. Philadelphia is a lot like NYC, but with a more intimate setting, and generally a younger crowd. I could definitely live there, if I didn't want to set fire to their sports teams. Here are my top picks:
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Wednesday, January 12. Because it's my birthday, and I would be there if I could.
KUNG FU NECKTIE
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Tonight. There are two kick-ass acts going on (Crills Wilson and Venice Sunlight), and anyone who's brave enough to get pummeled by snow to see them play gets drinks on the bands' bar tabs. HAHAHA! Just kidding, guys.
I'm SO getting my ass kicked.
NORTH STAR BAR
The food here is pretty epic. They have a regular bar menu, but with a twist. The prices are pretty decent, too.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Saturday, January 15th, and check out Amnesia Star Hotel. They have a classic rock vibe and I predict that you'll be hearing a lot more from them.
WORLD CAFE LIVE
There's an upstairs and a downstairs at the venue, and the food is really good. Like, REALLY good. I recommend the lobster mac and cheese or the fries.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Friday, January 14th. The Smithereens? Holy shit.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA
BOTTOM OF THE HILL
Bottom of the Hill was one of the highlights of my Bay Area visit a few years ago. I'd just come from AT&T Park and I was hungry, tired, sweaty and wanted at all costs to avoid the club scene.
This is a straight-up rock club- there's a smoking patio and a full bar, and the food I had was pretty decent, too. There were a bunch of loud, obnoxious idiots in Niners regalia- I felt like I was in a frat house. An AWESOME frat house. Definitely go here. It's Nugs-approved.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: Friday, January 14th. Two of the bands playing are called Filthy, Thieving Bastards and The Fucking Buckaroos. At any rate, you'll have an interesting time describing the night to your parents.
The only beef I have with this place is that they seem to have a real jones for clowns (there's a massive clown head outside), and circus stuff scares the shit out of me. Other than that, the fact that this venue is devoted to punk rock makes me happy in the pants. I have a soft spot for Seattle, having grown up listening to grunge, so basically anything The Funhouse does sits right with me.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: On Sunday, January, 16th, The Funhouse hosts a band called Sex Offender. That's so fucked up that I have to give it my blessing.
The nation's capital and the surrounding area has an impressive live music community due to its sizable college scene. I've gone venue-hopping in DC a few times, and I've never been let down. Here's where I'm ordering you to go:
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: The Virginia Coalition is playing early on Saturday, January 15th, so you'll be able to see them perform and catch another show afterward.
One of DC's preeminent rock clubs, Black Cat is rumored to be partially owned by Dave Grohl (!!!!). There's also a vegan- and vegetarian-friendly cafe.
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: There's a "TV Party" on Wednesday, January 12th, and the promo for this on the website has a picture of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast. Do they know it's my birthday???
MAKE AN APPEARANCE: There's not enough show info on their website, but I'm sure you can figure something out.
I believe in you.
If there are any other places that you think I missed, as always, feel free to rail into me below. And if any of you have been to any of these venues, please send NSFW photos my way.
PS- If you guys were looking forward to shameful New Year's details, don't worry, those are coming. Eventually.