Names are important. If you’re arbitrary and contrary like I am, the words “Fat” or “Daddy” in a bar’s moniker almost guarantee I’ll never set foot inside. I guess what frustrates me the most is what I perceive to be a gross disregard for imagination and for anything beyond the lowest common denominator. Who is Fat Daddy? Is he some kind of American mythological character like John Henry or Elvis? Does the Fat Daddy archetype somehow suggest a good time?
In my experience, bars named for this guy are just big sports bars — inoffensive, usually with cheap drafts and cute waitresses. Would they be dramatically different if they were named something else? Could there ever be a Joshua’s Sports Bar? Or a Scott’s Sports Bar & Grill? What about Papa G and Frankie — are they also overweight fathers? And why do they like sports? My dad is a little overweight, but he thinks sports are boring. He does collect guns, though. If I opened a Papa Mike’s, should I install an indoor pistol range?
I bring up these questions because downtown bar/restaurant formerly known as The Vault has reopened as The Tower Speakeasy. I know nothing about this bar, but based on its name, I’ve already made two assumptions: The “speakeasy” concept must be a hot new trend, and the Tower Speakeasy is probably nothing like an actual speakeasy.
For one thing, it seems to be more about being a restaurant. The manager is touting its new “gastropub” fare. I imagine a speakeasy to be something that’s advertised by word-of-mouth and hidden from view, where you get in only if you’re in the know or trying to hook up with someone in the know. And it seems like such a place would be more about liquor than steaks and calamari.
At least the Tower Speakeasy is trying, and, anyway, that it’s named for something other than a non-existent, jovial fat guy piques my interest. Sure, I might be disappointed that it’s not an underground drinking lair accessible only by a secret tunnel and a clever password (one that changes nightly), but I’ll probably give it a shot. And who knows — if I eat there often enough, maybe I’ll merit opening a joint called Fat Steve’s. — Steve Steward
Catharsis by Color
I probably don’t need to say anything about the Weekly’s 10th Annual Music Awards Festival last Sunday, but I probably don’t need to say most of the things that come out of my mouth. In any case, what struck me was how big the crowds were and how most of the concertgoers actually seemed to be into the music. The prime example was Pinkish Black’s set at Lola’s. When I staggered that way after a capacity-crowd gig at Poag Mahone’s, I expected the place to be packed to the gills and sweltering. And I was right about that. After all, when Burning Hotels play, as they were set to do post-PB, they almost always fill the room, but Pinkish Black isn’t exactly the kind of music you see lots of women in sundresses nodding along with. It’s not necessarily, you know, fun. In fact, for me, the band’s record is kind of cathartic, like manual labor or hypothetically being told by an ex that you’re shitty when you know she’s totally right.
But the sundress babes did in fact nod along. I figured the room would be full of people there to see the Hotels, but I was amazed when all those people seemed to be as transfixed by PB’s music as I was. Maybe everyone needed the same sort of sonic exorcism as I did. More likely, good music is good music. I hope most of those people show up at Pinkish Black’s next show. — S.S.
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