Rock ‘n’ rollin’ on the river

An overview of the West Bank’s most rock-centric locales

Not much can be said for live music on the East Bank. A live music aficionado is pretty much limited to the contrived edginess of The Whole or gag-worthy cycle of The Blend/Ari Herstand/Roster McCabe that cancerously circulates through Dinkytown. Luckily, our smiling creator in the sky forged rivers with not one, but two banks. The other bank in question is logically referred to as the West Bank. It is there where several stellar venues can be found and numerous music scenes are thriving. Whether you’re a steel-pedal yearnin’ Americana enthusiast or a safety-pin sportin’ gutter-punk, the western bank of the Mississippi has you covered.

Triple Rock Social Club

When I spoke with Chris – the Triple Rock’s production manager – he attempted to dispel the notion that his club is strictly a punk rock club. It was at that very moment that a spiky and black-clad young man donning a bowler hat and carrying a six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon walked by. Case in point. Triple Rock is a punk rock club. In fact, it’s even owned by a member of local punks Dillinger Four. But to limit it to the confines of a punk rock club would be inaccurate.

“I think we do a little bit of everything. We try and do local bands, a little bit of punk rock, a little bit of hip-hop,” explained Chris. “If there’s a good show and people are going to come to it, we’re going to do it.” Coming from a venue that has hosted both Athens crooner Maria Taylor as well as Minneapolis’s grime-punkers Pocket Pu$$y, it would be difficult to pigeonhole the venue as exclusively punk rock.

Perfect for: cheap, loud and stripped-down shows. Also, the bar portion of the venue features standard bar fare with plenty of vegan options as well as all-you-can-eat-bacon on Wednesdays. Feel semi at ease, vegans.

Recommended upcoming shows:
4/1 ñ Vampire Weekend (Sold Out)
4/8 ñ Converge ($15)
4/12 ñ Caribou/F–k Buttons ($15)

Nomad World Pub

When I asked the bartender at the Nomad to chat with me about the types of bands that come through, he offered a baffling and dismissive response. According to him, as a musician, he does not feel comfortable discussing other musicians and would not talk with me on those grounds. Hmm. Headcase bartenders aside, the Nomad is relatively new but already establishing itself as one of West Bank’s prime venues. If you – like me – were born with absolutely no athletic ability, there’s a bocce ball field, weekly rock/paper/scissors and televised soccer matches. Despite its relatively small size, the Nomad attracts an eclectic mix of acts ranging from hip-hop to power-pop.

Perfect for: those seeking a bar show that’s both clean and quaint. They boast the “Perfect Meal” special which includes a shot, a beer and a single Camel smoke (to be enjoyed outside, of course).

Recommended upcoming shows:
3/29 ñ Evangelicals ($8)
4/5 ñ “When Worlds Collide” (A concert featuring seven local hip-hop and punk groups)

Cedar Cultural Center

This venue is architecturally similar to a movie theater and is responsible for some of the most wide-ranging shows not only on the bank, but in the city at large. I spoke with Meghan, who is a member of the local band Dish Lillie’s and a West Bank veteran, about the venue.

“They do a lot of world music. They put on a Norwegian fest, an Irish fest; they do a lot of Americana music. That’s what I’ve come to see. They do a lot of indie rock too.” Meghan also feels a community and scene centered around Americana music on the West Bank and glowingly mentioned the square dances held at the Bedlam Theater.

Perfect for: persons interested in both music and the varying cultures that cultivate said music.

Recommended upcoming shows:
4/16 ñ Kimya Dawson ($14)

400 Bar

On par with the Triple Rock in terms of national touring acts, the 400 Bar’s unassuming veneer and ordinary inside reflect the bar’s focus: music.

“Some clubs around here have a lot of regulars, but the thing about the 400 Bar is people come just to see the bands they want to see, on that given night,” said bartender Joe. “People don’t come here to just get trashed. It’s about the music and it’s a very real thing.”

Perfect for: A thrifty, no-frills music purist. The bar treads the line between booking national and local acts diligently – in turn – defying the adage and pleasing everyone.

Recommended upcoming shows:
3/29 ñ the pAper chAse ($10)
4/16 ñ Destroyer ($12)

Bedlam Theater

Both an experimental theater and music venue, Bedlam is becoming an increasingly hip destination for West Bankers. I spoke with Phil, a decidedly hip patron, and a lovely young barkeep who goes by Space-Bag Rosé about the venue.

“We have a lot of friends in the community, and a lot of the time it’s them coming to us and saying, ‘can we do this show?'” explained Space-bag. “It’s a pretty wide network, but there’s a lot of the same faces at shows.”

Phil went on to say how that deep-rooted, hands-on and community-based approach is indicative to the West Bank as a whole. “The only thing I can say is the D.I.Y. ethic is really big on the West Bank. That’s not a genre of music, but that’s what’s typical of the bands.”

Perfect for: sporting your new pair of insufferably tight jeans and asymmetrical haircut at a hip, arty play or show.

Recommended upcoming shows:
4/13 ñ Seventh Annual 10 Minute Play Festival