Spotlight – Skybox – The Underground – Column

Spotlight

by Scott Hefflon

This month, the Lollipop Spotlight hits two clubs. Each is varying from the norm and deserves applause for their efforts. They approach their business seriously and with dedication and refuse to let the typical pitfalls and “yeah, whatever” attitude limit their vision. Ranging in age, lifestyle, business, and locale, the one characteristic found in both enterprises is innovation. While what they are doing may not be earth-shattering on a global scale, each took a solid concept that was not being addressed in their area and either built it from scratch or modified an existing business and manifested their idea. It takes energy, insight, and courage to plug a hole in the market. It creates a more diverse scene for the general population to sample. It’s a breath of fresh air in a closed, cliche-ridden business world. Both are stretching from the standard cashier-that-just-happens-to-own-the-joint and should be checked out.

Feet on the ground, head in the Skybox.

Mark Giannelli is a man with a plan. He’s shaping the Spectator’s Sports Bar/Skybox Night Club (God, is that a mouthful, or what?!) into a multi-ring circus the likes of which the Metro West area has never seen. Check out this line up: On Fridays, it’s dance night with WXLO; on Saturdays, there’s Karaoke night with $5,000 in prizes; on Sunday, it’s Brazilian night; on Mondays, it’s open mic night; on Tuesdays, it’s the area’s top comedians; on Wednesday, it’s Country/ Western night; and then on Thursdays, it’s Rock night. Allow me to clarify a bit on the last.

Every other Thursday during the last couple months, WAAF has conducted the Battle of the Bands. The bands involved in the finals were Riot Act, Little Sister, The Rattlers, and Mystery Jones. (Check out the specific elsewhere in this issue.)

The next Battle kicks off in August. During the off weeks, any area band is welcome to have their own night, take home the moolay from the door, and treat their fans to a free buffet. That’s not a shabby idea. For further details, contact Mark at the Skybox at (508) 460-8895.

Hint, hint. Mark Giannelli used to organize the bands at Legends in Danvers. He then built and named The Rockpile, and set up The Granite Rock, in Nashua, NH.

After a stint in Ft. Lauderdale, building Butt n’ South, Mark is back in Massachusetts. There are a few rumors of an all rock club to opened within the year in the Metro West area as well as a new club called The Flame Thrower next to The Rockpile, so keep your eyes and ears open.

The cool atmosphere of The Underground

It used to be called “The Pit” and other such subterranean nick-names. Now it’s The Underground and is a club to be reckoned with. Based in scenic Lowell, it’s the hottest air-conditioned venue in the area. It’s got railroad ties, murals, an off-shoot graphitied dance club (that blasted NIN and Ministry as we sauntered through), and even a full-blown snack bar! It’s got a 30′ by 15′ (approx, I didn’t actually measure it) CARPETED stage that puts to shame half the bar-turned-“night club” posturers in the world, good lighting, and awesome sound. The engineer, Ed McGee, also does sound at the Paradise in Boston, if that clues you in a bit. There was a puddle of drool around his booth from all the sound tech geeks who came by to admire his set-up.

Down to the good stuff: Admission is $3. ($5 for 18+.) That’s cheap, man. Drafts are only 75¢. That’s way cheap. As far as the bands go, they do A LOT with the local scene (much of which doesn’t get to the Almighty Boston. Shame, shame) as well as importing bands from various other parts of the state. It’s a good introduction for bands that feel locked into their home bases. Sure, you get an opener’s slot, but it’s a place to play, dammit.

In a chillin’ (A.C. pun intended) interview/bar stool philosophy session I had with Bob the Booking Boy (Big Bob), he gave me the lowdown. 100 bands played, 100 bands payed. Cash. At the end of the night. Wham, Bam, and “Thanks, Bob, maybe this week we can eat.”

The Underground does mostly original hard rock, with a few cover tunes tossed in for grins and giggles. They do a bit with the hardcore/way-heavy crunch stuff, but so many dickheads turn the pit into a brawl, it’s kinda hard to justify it’s continuance to owners, security teams, cops, insurance agents, and other suits who see, but can’t understand, what a pit really is.

To the partakers of the pit, a hint for you (and this is universal. I don’t mean to point the finger at, or give the finger to, anyone in particular): It’s called a mosh pit, not a push pit. Moshing/slamming/skanking/etc. has style. It’s got technique. You wanna push people? Wait in line at a sporting event, ride the subway, or play football. You wanna get smashed up with your buddies? Pile in a car while shit-faced and go off-roading. But if you’ve had a tough day, a tough week, or a tough-freakin’-life; let the pit be the therapy, not the excuse. Anger and aggression should bond the scene against the subtly manipulative brainwash, NOT tear it apart. That’s what “they” want. Think about it.

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