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July 28, 2008 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Bar Review: The San Francisco Bathhouse

The San Francisco Bathhouse is not just a bar; it is also Wellington’s trendiest music venue. Once full of potential under the adolescent alias ‘Indigo’ it now grudgingly sulks moodily on Cuba St; an oxymoron to the bohemian riff raff of shops and patrons that once ornamented the area. The psychedelic sign that hangs outside its front entrance is deceivingly cheerful, acting as a light to attract all the pseudoindie scene moths and idiots who were too drunk to get into Shooters. Late on Friday nights such unwanted pests pour into the venue, ignorantly ruining the enjoyment of patrons who are actually there for gigs by forming conversation circles in the dance floor, taking pictures of themselves and even ridiculously pole dancing.

As a bar, this isn’t a bad place to crash when it’s quiet. During the week when no one is around the San Fran has more of a modest air about it, and it can be quite a sweet place to chill and enjoy a stupendously overpriced drink.

But as a venue the San Fran has been a victim of its own popularity. On concert nights the cramped conditions prove the minimalist decor and limited seating – that seem so lovely in a quiet atmosphere – largely obsolete. San Fran’s reputation and its near-monopoly of the gig market ensures that even concerts of moderate profile are full of parents, wanks, yobbos, indies, punks, jerks and sluts, and all with their own private agenda. It sounds cool, perhaps, but it is almost impossible to experience an enjoyable atmosphere in such conditions, and transforms the San Fran from tight punk-rock club into a soulless funvacuum.

I’m fed up with the San Fran now. After years of dedication and hope that one day, someday I might experience a good gig there I’ve had enough. The San Fran: I pray to God that when The New Pornographers tour they drink all your ale, steal your women-folk, and burn this black-pit of a ‘venue’ to the ground.


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