If there's been one thing missing from Time Out Lounge over the years -- and, frankly, there isn't much you can't find at the infamous Tempe dive bar and pool joint -- it's live music. But that situation's changed, thanks to Westley Allen.
The veteran Time Out bartender, DJ behind KWSS' Erratic Radio, and all-around rock 'n' roll deviant has been booking bands and DJs on various Thursday nights since Halloween last year. It's a natural progression for a bar that has always catered to musicians and their fans.
"I conned the bar into letting me throw a Halloween party which was way lucrative for them, so they've let me run with it," Allen says. "I've bartended there for eight years now. They just let me start booking."
A redesign last year removed a dividing wall inside Time Out that formerly separated the jukebox from the pool tables, opening up a small, elevated stage for DJs and live acts.
Until recently, Time Out's music offerings were relegated to a jukebox. And what a jukebox it was. Before TouchTunes invaded, TO had one of the best old-school boxes in the Valley, one with a rotating selection of punk, new wave, metal . . . whatever. Years ago, Hayden's title track from the movie Trees Lounge held a perennial spot on the jukebox -- if there's ever been an anthem for dive bars like Time Out, this is the song:
Over the past month or so, we've been monitoring TO's live-music offerings and losing money in the process to an excellent pool player, Eddie "The Mouth" Phillips, during some of the most intensely competitive, daring and tragic pool games ever played.
Final Score (tentative): New Times: 12 Time Out: 24
After we picked ourselves up and dusted off from the loss, here's what we've witnessed on the music front.
DJs work best on TO's small stage -- especially if they're spinning garage rock. DJ Sinecura (Wez Lundry) and DJ Dizzy (Kate Daly) spun a while back, and their mix of soul, punk and garage is perfect for TO. Thee Headcoats, The Penetrators, and The Monsters sound like Time Out to me -- stripped-down rock 'n' roll for a strip-mall dive.
Sets by DJ Brainwave, better known as Ryan Rousseau of Destruction Unit, worked well, too. Rousseau's cerebral mixes -- think Yo La Tengo with a sitar -- augmented the bar's psychosphere, allowing patrons to play pool, drink, and behave like the miscreants they are without having to crowd in front of the stage.
Things are a little different when a band plays, though. It seems the first few bands we've seen suffered from the cramped space in front of the stage (something TO has since taken care of). Industrial duo Mongering Cock performed after Rousseau, and their teeth-grinding set, which started after about an hour of tweaking their electronics, asked the audience to jitter awkwardly in the tiny space between a pool table and the stage.
Fans of two squads of metalheads, Battalion Slaughter and Lady Bird, suffered a similar fate. As the bands growled through their sets, the group of 'bangers packed in front of the stage could have used a little more room in which to mosh, or do whatever it is you do to stoner/death metal.
Time Out quickly took steps to fix the space issue and moved the pool table when Jayke Orvis and the Broken Band visited a couple weeks ago. The country/roots outfit picked through an energetic show, and the fans had plenty of space to clog with the table out of the way.
This Thursday will see grind thrashers Ramming Speed perform with Rotten Youth, Warhead, and Kashyyyk at the TO. Allen also promises to book live garage in the near future, too, which allows us to look forward to seeing locals Petty Things and Los Puchos jam and punishing "The Mouth" at the pool table.
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