It was a little weird, but I went to the grand opening of the Rogue as a music venue on Friday. The show itself seemed to be barely promoted (I'm in a band with someone who was in the first band that played there and even he didn't seem to know too much about it almost until the week of.) However, there was a pretty good crowd.
Let's see, I stated off the night across the street at The Usual Suspects. Why? Well, the bartender over there happens to be none other than Sean Patrick Rodriguez, who was a fixture of the Patio. It just seemed right to have a few and shoot the shit with him before braving what had become of the venue that was my home away from home for a while.
We went over to the Rogue at what we'd assumed would be close to show time. For some reason, they kept pushing it back, so we had plenty of time to soak up the ambiance of the place.
Many people have described the Rogue as the Patio with a fresh coat of paint and for the room, I'd say that's accurate mostly. The sound booth is gone and there's a raised floor right behind the door in the area where bands used to set up merch tables. I think the raised floor part is going to cause a problem if they really start packing them in for rock shows.
The thing that amused me the most about the room was the stage. Same stage, but it's shiny! I've seen a lot of shows there and played on that stage before, but I've never known it to be anything other than dull black and vaguely sticky. There's also wood floor near the stage which I don't know if that's new, but it does point out that once upon a time there was carpet there. All those years and I never noticed it. (Who had that brilliant idea anyway? Carpet in a bar? What?)
The lineup for the night was Action Strasse, Mudkids and Those Young Lions. Action Strasse is good if you like Vess Ruthenberg. It's pretty much Vess with Majahs except they're playing Vess' songs. I dug it, but I'd love to hear more of the others in that band influence the direction a little more.
I stuck around for most of Mudkids set and then I ran into some friends and closed the night out getting pretty buzzed back at The Usual Suspects. Hanging out with Rodriguez at closing time, really made it feel like a Patio night. But I got to tell you, the Rogue isn't the Patio and I don't think it's going to be.
First off, they desperately need Jonee Quest. It doesn't help that someone removed the curtains or padding or whatever it was from behind the stage, but they really need someone who knows that room and can mix for it. Action Strasse sounded weird, through no fault of their own. I could barely hear John Zeps and ironically he'd told me earlier that evening they kept telling him to turn down.
Second, someone needs to tell them about drink prices. $11 for a Newcastle and a well drink isn't going to cut it for a rock show. Maybe the swanky piano bar patrons will go for that (or maybe they won't. After all, anyone who saw the place prior to last Friday knows it was nearly empty anytime it was open.) but the old Patio crowd that it looks like they're trying to court won't. $6 cover for a bunch of locals is pushing it as well.
All and all though, Friday just reinforced something I thought the last night the Patio was open. That place really wasn't about the room, it was about the people. Yeah, they can reopen the room for live music, but it's kind of like jerking off with the wrong hand. Might accomplish the same goal, but it just feels wrong.
Going to the Patio was always about the music, but the people who worked there helped make that place what it was. Being in that room and not seeing Rodriguez, Quest, Bushy, Norman, Biggs, etc., etc., just isn't the same thing. Sure, the people working the Rogue seemed nice, but it's going to take time to build up that rapport again, if it can be done at all.
One last thing, I gotta give a shout out to Butchieboy who found me stumbling around near the end of the evening. His blog is pretty gay, but you might like it anyway.