Thursday, February 26, 2004

Back Where They Belong

Last night, I saw something I hadn't seen in years: Lab Band Night in a club-type setting on the UNT campus. 'Bout time...

Years ago, the lab bands played every Wednesday night at the late, lamented Rock Bottom Lounge (RBL) in the basement of the University Union. The lounge itself, a great little club (touted in my Too Young to Jam? post) fell victim to the campus smoking ban a number of years back. Since then, the lab bands have been on a restless journey of near-epic proportions.

For a while, they played at Rick's Place, a rock club across from campus; the acoustics were all wrong, the stage was way too small, and there was an amusing sign next to the stage warning customers to MOSH AT YOUR OWN RISK. After Rick's burned down, they moved to the Square to a place called Andy's (nice place, but small, and the off-campus location was a deterrent to car-less students), and then a year or so ago they moved to the Silver Eagle Suite, a large ballroom in the Union. The location was better, but everyone told me the atmosphere was just way too formal and stuffy.

Finally, they moved to the Syndicate, the pool hall in the back of the Union. I went there last night--my first Lab Band Night since the Rick's days--to see John (a.k.a. J-Guar, Joho, etc.) play with the Nine O'Clock. (I also caught part of the Eight O'Clock, directed by my old schoolmate from years ago, Kevin Brunkhorst. He was quite surprised to see me, needless to say.)

Though I remembered the Syndicate as a brightly-lit place with wall-to-wall pool tables, they've changed it a lot, and they've really succeeded in re-creating the vibe of the RBL: Mostly dark, bar in the back, lots of round tables to sit at, etc. It was the usual rowdy atmosphere I remember from my days in school, but the acoustics seemed a little less barn-like than the RBL, which is a good thing.

So it's great to see this kind of thing revived. I'll probably go back in a few weeks during my spring break (which isn't theirs), and next year, with Halfling there, I'm sure I'll be up quite a bit. (I also got to do some "scouting" on his behalf; since, technically, he has to beat the second alto in the Nine to get into the lab band system, I was able to gauge the competition a bit.) After so many years, Lab Band Night is once again truly "home."

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