Friday, May 22, 2015

Saying Goodbye to TT the Bear's

Via Facebook
For anyone who doesn't know, last week is was announced that Cambridge, MA club TT the Bear's was closing this summer after over 40 years. This might be the first club closing to truly upset me. By the time I was regularly going to shows (1996?), The Rat was catering to mostly punk and hardcore bands, and Avalon and Axis were always the bigger, corporate clubs (even though they've been replaced by the even more corporate and gigantic House of Blues). TT's had an equal love of national and local bands, and felt like a home base to bands like Letters to Cleo and Lady Lamb the Beekeeper even as they got too big to play a 325 person club. For an example of how great this place was in the late 90s, check out the ad to the left. Jennifer Trynin, Allstonians, Velvet Crush, Boss Hog, Bikini Kill, and a Squirrel Nut Zippers/Magnetic Fields double bill in less than 2 weeks??? Plus, it was the site of the legendary Pixies/Lemonheads pairing on "nu muzik" night back in 1986. 

When I think of TT's, I think of some of my favorite live experiences: A Letters to Cleo/Sloan benefit in 1998 that I was supposed to be on a guest list for but wasn't and had Sloan's road manager argue my way into; Wandering onto Ocean Colour Scene's tour bus after the show in 1996; The two best Rivers Cuomo solo shows in 1997 and 1998, where I learned that Matt Sharp wouldn't be on the next Weezer record (which I reported to Rebel Weezer Alliance the next morning); Frank Turner doing a quickie afternoon acoustic set for Radio BDC in 2012; Benjamin Booker in 2014, which I still can't shut up about; Mick Jones with Carbon/Silicon back in 2008; An Evan Dando solo show (with Chris Brokaw joining on guitar) that started off cranky when Evan declared he would never play there acoustic again (to be fair, the metal show downstairs at the Middle East that night was bleeding through badly enough to be confused with music coming over TT's PA), but ended with Evan and Bill Janovitz teaming up for "Love Hurts."

In a city where even beloved institutions like The Paradise are becoming Clear Channel venues complete with video screens advertising upcoming Clear Channel concerts between bands, TT's was one of the few big name hold outs. I love the club, even though it has the worst set up I've ever seen. When you enter, the stage area is to your right and behind you. The bar is to the left, with this weird open hallway space in between. There is even a bizarre divider/ledge between the bar area and the stage area. The merch table has always been kept way over on the other side of the bar, making any post show purchases a pushing contest between you and the people that sat at the bar all night and are trying to leave. But I loved it.

According to TT's calendar, they have a final week of farewell blowout performances scheduled starting on July 17 and finishing up on the final night TT's will be open, July 25. I'm hoping the stays more retro than their 40th anniversary week of shows was a couple years back. So far only Scruffy the Cat on the 25th has been announced. I'm hoping for a Letters to Cleo reunion, and maybe recreating the Lemonheads/Pixies bill? I'd settle for an Evan Dando/Ben Deily duo show. Billy Corgan has also been quoted as calling TT's his favorite club, so who really knows.

Goodbye, TT's. Hopefully I'll be able to get inside you for one last legendary night.

1 comment:

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