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U-31 in North Park

[Nightlife Reportage]

Plushification

OK… U-31 Cocktail Lounge isn’t all that bad. After last night’s show I reconsider my earlier unwritten review…

Review, photos and video by Reviewer Rob

I first stepped into U-31 a couple of years ago or so just after their grand opening and was impressed with the remodel. It’s really taken on a unique upscale persona of its own. Before the current owner took over, like everyplace else in this part of town, it was a crusty local dive, called Buster Daly’s, that had a gritty charm with entertainment when bands couldn’t get booked at a the Casbah. It was close to home for me since up until 2006 I lived less than two blocks away on Illinois Street. But now in the post-housing-bubble gentrification rush of all things urban and decaying this is another fine example of what was a former dirty watering hole gone semi-uptown. The room is large and utilitarian, with very few remnants persisting of its former rundown ambiance, and can be converted into anything from a dance hall to a banquet room or a comedy club and still not break character. The best feature however is the liquor wall behind the bar that’s backlit and stacked with all your favorite spirits which requires a ladder to reach the top of.

On this night the crowd was typical for a coolclub scene: young, monied and good looking. May Star of Maystar Productions who also hosted the night was working the back booths being her usual cute and slightly snobby self. She’s so image conscious I won’t be surprised if she sends me a text asking that I delete that snobby comment or says something else overtly controlling, “LOL!”.

The first time I went there a couple of years ago maybe I was too early that evening but there was no crowd and the bartender was kind of bitchy. I speculated because of this that they’d have a hard time getting the club going and staying open. Now a couple of years later, at least on this Friday night, there was a lot of people drinking and having a good time and the early-shift bartenders, dressed like flappers, were friendly and a lot hotter than the time before. I ordered a Grand Marnier on the rocks and commented on Facebook that it was $7.50. Later in the night a second one was $10.

The band this evening was Little Red Radio, from Los Angeles. When I walked up to the club earlier the lead singer was standing out front with some dudes and she was looking like some hard living stripper with a lot of miles on her. I didn’t know it was the girl in the band that I was looking at but when they took the stage I wasn’t surprised. The other singer and the band’s keyboardist, both males, played barefoot while she kept her knee-high black boots on. They described their music in the post-set interview as electro-something, but you can check them out on myspace or watch it in Quicktime HERE and see for yourself; sorry about the sound distortion. You can donate a better video camera to Reviewer Magazine if you wish.

On the whole it was a cool night. It’s great to see nightlife improving on every corner in this social scene. You can click HERE for the Flash photo gallery from the Reviewer Magazine pocket Nikon camera and video recorder.

~RR

Above left: Little Red Radio’s lead singer, Lara. More of her is in the Flash photo gallery. Click the image below for the sidewalk interview and a clip of the show.


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