A Review of Sorts: U-31, 1/26/2008

Saturday night was a bust, as far as I’m concerned. We were planning on eating at Urban Solace, but were told they didn’t take reservations and to call back at 7PM to get on the list. When we followed those instructions, we were told that there was already a 2 hour wait.

So we headed to Turf Club, where we knew there would be a wait, but since we were with a friend of one of the owners, we thought maybe some strings could be pulled. Alas, it didn’t work out that way and we ended up across the street at Pizzeria Luigis, which was just kind of “meh.”

After a stop at a friend’s house and then at the Pink Elephant, we walked over to U-31. There was a $5 cover, which in retrospect, I really regret that I paid. The point of going there was to see Buddy Akai, but I didn’t even last that long in the new bar.

As far as alcohol is concerned, my first drink (Captain and Coke) was $6 and pretty weak. And half the size of the mixed drinks you can get at the Pink Elephant for $1 less. The second drink was stronger, so maybe it was just bad luck on the first one. I realize that some people go downtown to the Gaslamp and pay $6 for a beer, but there’s a reason I don’t go to the Gaslamp (actually there are many, but that’s one of them). The bar is in North Park, so I reserve my right to bitch about the drink prices. Oh, and for the record, in undergrad at Penn State, I routinely paid $5.50 during happy hour (half price on everything in the bar) for a pitcher of Bacardi and Coke.

I do like what they did with the space in the bar. I was in Buster Daly’s once, and it just felt super crowded. From what I remember, they had the bar in the middle of the room, and one side consisted of a dance floor while the other side had tables and chairs. It felt like you couldn’t really move around at all. So in that respect, I like that they opened up all that space in U-31. It’s almost too much space, even with the bar protruding out a little further than necessary.

The DJs were still really loud. At Beauty Bar, I felt like it was really loud because you were dancing in such a small space (technically it was the hallway between the bar and the stage, with the bathrooms on one side). Interestingly enough, I felt that the music was really loud in U-31 because there was too much space. Like the DJs were afraid that people in the back might not be able to hear the music.

However, I would have taken the DJ’s loud music any day over what happened next. The band that opened for Buddy Akai was an atrocity called Hyper Crush. They brought their own blacklights for the stage – all the better to see their neon Hammer pants and plastic sunglasses with. They also brought a keytar, which appeared to not be plugged into anything, and I highly doubted that the guy pushing buttons on it was actually “playing” anything. But as for the girl who was with them, there was no doubt – she was lip-syncing, and doing a poor job of it at that. The other MC did appear to be rapping, but most of that was just catchphrases from early 90’s hip-hop songs. “Doin’ it and doin’ it and doin’ it well,” – I wish.

The banner over the stage proclaimed that they were established in 1952 – the same year that my mom was born. If they were going for some sort of irony with their act, it was completely lost on me. There comes a point when irony stops being funny and starts looking pathetic, and Hyper Crush reached it a long time ago. Maybe in 1952, even.

Here’s the link to their Myspace site, just in case you’re curious. But be forewarned, it may crash your browser and/or induce epilepsy.

The crowd was mostly Beauty Bar-types, with a few holdovers of the Buster Daly’s sort. Unless there’s a band playing at U-31 that I really want to see, I’ll probably stick to the more low-key Pink Elephant or the super close-to-home Whistlestop.