Here at Up On the Sun, we have a whole lot of faith in the local scene. So much so, we try to devote at least 50 percent of our daily blog space to it.
We've been hyping Stateside's Crescent Ballroom
for the past few months. We've even touted it as a sort of a beacon of hope; a centralized home for the local scene. I think what we've been trying to say is that downtown is so totally not "ovah,"
as once feared by New Times.
But the truth is that the Valley has had our fair share of venues come and go, become relevant and then disappear. Here are a few local venues we'd like to see revamped, refocused or reimagined to add even more gusto to the local scene.
Note: We don't want this to be misconstrued as venue hate. We review a lot of shows. These are simply constructive criticisms of a couple beloved venues.
The Clubhouse's strip mall location may make it seem unofficial, but the Tempe mainstay has a good thing going. They line up acts that people consistently want to see from a multitude of genres, but there's something about the atmosphere that's uncomfortable. Even winter shows are sweaty and balmy.
Underage drinking is clearly a concern here, but barring drinkers to the back of the venue where you can't see past the bar is more than a little frustrating, especially when you've paid the same amount for your ticket as the under-21's, plus drinks and tips. Crank up the A/C and let me through with my beer. Create a Marquee-like wristband-to-drink situation. Let the security guards scour the crowd for underage drinkers with an iron fist.
But ideally, The Clubhouse would just rip out the center bar and rebuild one in the back, similar to the Rhythm Room set up. Separate drinkers and the kids with a gate running vertically down the center of the crowd.
I know, I know. It's "ovah." We can't go back, but, dammit, we really, really want to. The charm of that 100-person art space turned music venue is yet to be matched. J. Tillman once played there, and so did Arcade Fire. That place was magic. If we can't have it back as a music venue, can we at least have something like it in the same exact location with the same exact vibe?
Michael Peck, former owner of now-defunct Chyro Arts
, sort of thought that if he built it, they would come. Housed on the northeast corner of Rural and University, the art space, café, and music venue would easily draw ASU students, right? Not so much, The State Press
And it's sad. Venue 104 is a really cool place
. So, really, the only thing that needs revamping here are the ASU students who say they're fans of local music. You don't need to hop on the light rail to see music downtown. Some of the same bands are playing just a short walk away.
Long Wong's at the Firehouse has quite the reputation to live up to. It takes its name from the classic '90s Mill Avenue hot spot, but it doesn't quite have the same vibe. First of all, it's pretty far off Mill Avenue at its current Apache and McClintock location. But the folks at Long Wong's shows tons of love to locals (like its Tempe brethren, Yucca Tap Room and Sail Inn), devoting Friday nights to local band residencies, which is a really cool, and makes us feel like a "real" big city.
Long Wong's has great food, great drinks, and super friendly staff. Our only qualm? It's just a bit cramped. The bar takes up precious up-front standing space, and pillars in the back of the room obscure views of the stage. We love Wong's, and we admittedly aren't architects, but maybe there's some way to free up a little space?
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