With TT the Bear's closing forever this Saturday, I wanted to share some of my favorite memories of the iconic Cambridge rock club. Some of my most cherished musical memories took place within its walls. It is going to be missed greatly.
This was one of those stacked bills that can only happen at a TT the Bear's benefit show. It also included local heroes The Gravel Pit along with The Sterlings and Boy Wonder, who were both great forgotten late 90s Boston bands. Happening back in my college radio days, I mentioned I was going to see Sloan to my contact at whatever company was promoting them back in 1998. He told me he was going to put me on the list, and I said I didn't mind paying since it was a benefit. He insisted, so I figured I'd do the free show thing, which is really what college radio is about.
After driving an hour into Cambridge, I got to TT's to find out there wasn't a list since it was a benefit show. I pleaded my case obnoxiously for at least 15 minutes. It didn't work (TT's was famous for not cutting anyone slack with guestlists and IDs), and I started dejectedly walking back towards the car. Letters to Cleo were one of my favorite live bands in the late 90s, and I hated missing any of their local shows. As we walked by Sloan's tour bus (no other band on the bill could have had a bus in that bill), we saw a crew member getting some equipment. We started talking to him, and told him of our bad luck. He walked us to the door, and successfully argued our way in. Pretty sure Sloan's album Navy Blues shot up to #1 on my old radio station's charts after that one.
One of the most fun things about seeing Sloan in New England is because of the proximity to Canada, a ton of Canadians make the drive down to the show. That same year they were playing venues named Frank Clair Stadium and Niagara Dome back in Canada. For the cost of a 6-8 hour drive, a Canadian fan can see them play the 320 capacity TT the Bear's. That leads to some pretty energetic and thrilled crowds at their shows.
I can't remember anything specific about the Letters to Cleo set that night. I saw them at the same venue roughly 5-8 times in a few years, and more than 20 total. Sets tend to bleed together with that much frequency. I'm more than a little bummed they're not scheduled in this week's round of farewell shows. This one stands out more because I shouldn't have gotten in, and that makes it that much of a better show.
To see the remaining shows on TT's calendar, check out their website. There are only four shows left.