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June 14, 2007

New Orleans' underground: Not under water

Yesterday I get an e-mail from a friend now living in Athens, GA: "From the ATH to the NO" said the subject line, and it was a plug for Christopher's Liver, an Athens act I'd never heard of before playing at a club I'd never heard of before somewhere in Mid-City.

Now, outside of festival season, Mid-City is still not a thriving center of commercial activity, although the residents over that way seem to have been making a pretty remarkable recovery of late. But I'd never heard of this "The _____ Underground" club before, and I was as curious about that as I was about the bands scheduled to play there. (That said, how can you not be curious about a headlining band that calls itself "Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship?").

Anyway, thanks to the false confidence inspired by Google Maps, we headed over that way, forgetting that New Orleans' peculiar logic is impervious to Google Maps, so we drove around on the wrong side of Esplanade for a while looking for the right place. In a testament to how little it takes to constitute a "happening" in post-K New Orleans, we immediately assumed the small group of four or five young people standing on a street corner smoking cigarettes was the band on break and pulled over in front of them, but we couldn't see any clear signs of a club nearby. "Are you a bar?" we asked them, which cracked them up until they realized we were serious. "Oh, wait -- I know what you're talking about," one of them said. "You gotta drive the wrong way down this one way street over here and then take a quick left then another left and it's a big house on your left..."

Turns out that's exactly where it was, and while we missed the shows -- they have to end them pretty early because, as the proprietor, a local writer named Gabrielle Reisman, pointed out, the "underground" part of The ______ Underground is for real (and if you're an employee of the City of New Orleans, nothing you've read in this aforementioned post is true) -- it was so fantastic to see a bunch of punk-rock-ish looking young kids hanging around such a perfectly unlikely garage-turned-venue as the bands packed up their tubas and accordians and laptops-turned-instruments.

It made me feel like all this time that I've been whining and wondering, New Orleans has already been coming back in lots of little corners that I haven't even conceived of yet.

Posted by cjoyce at June 14, 2007 2:03 PM


Is it an illegal/unlicensed venue? They should be careful. Parkway Tavern has been putting on live music for about a year and just got shut down (the music, not the bar/restaurant aspect) after a neighbor complained (I think.) That area has a very active n'hood association.

Posted by: rcs at June 14, 2007 3:41 PM

I hadn't heard about Parkway Tavern stopping their shows, that's a bummer. Some of these neighborhood associations (ass's?)have their guns squarely aimed at their own feet, don't they...

Posted by: Cynthia Joyce at June 14, 2007 4:02 PM

Here's another new performance space - the Backyard Ballroom down in the Bywater.

The production they're opening this weekend looks pretty wild!

Posted by: rcs at June 15, 2007 1:14 PM

Cool, thanks for the link -- looks like they mean busines (they have flash on the website and everything!)...

Posted by: Cynthia Joyce at June 15, 2007 3:26 PM

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