Friday, March 23, 2007

Bar Review: Love It Wednesdays at Icon Ultra Lounge

At the last minute on Wednesday afternoon the Kontrol kids sent out an announcement on their mailing list (and why haven't you signed up yet) that they were going to be appearing at Love it Wednesdays at the Icon Ultra Lounge (formerly known as the Luna Lounge) on Folsom and 8th. Since the boyfriend was at Mezzanine singing along to "Trapped in the Closet," and I was besotted in the company of bloggers and feeling frisky, we decided that this was a good space to meet in-between, as it were.

I used to frequent the Luna Lounge some years ago when they hosted the Taco Portal psytrance parties on Thursday nights. It was a pretty non-descript bar with too-expensive drinks ($6 each for well) that had the one redeeming quality of selling deep-fried Mexican bar food (hence, Taco Portal). That regular night ended about two years ago, and after that the Luna Lounge passed into deserved obscurity. Now, as the Icon Ultra Lounge it has a lot more flair, but they need to pull their act together if they're going to keep this thing going.

The flyer said 9PM - 11PM, and since it was a school night, I was inclined to be there early. I show up at 9.30 and while the door was open, there was no music and it looked like set-up was still in progress. I took a walk to check out the SoMa street theater, and when I came back ten minutes later sound check was still underway, and the bartenders were still counting out their cash drawers. At 9.45 I finally was able to get a drink, and the tunes started up. Now, I know from experience that, especially on a Saturday night, 9 can mean 9.30. But on a Wednesday, when people are inclined to go out early and leave early, if you put 9.00 on your flyer, you better start at 9PM.

Also on the email flyer was a promise of Kontrol DJ Sammy D. djing a "darker side of light rock" set as Lark After Dark in the back room. During the Taco Portal days this room was closed, and I only saw it once during a big party. I was rather looking forward to this, since I was curious what Sammy's spin would be. However, when the boyfriend and I left at 11.15, this room still wasn't going. On the print flyer it says "KOIT's Storm presents Light Rock Inferno," but nothing was burning as far as I could tell. Again, if you put it on the flyer, you better be making it happen.

The boyfriend and I didn't really spend any time in the main room because we discovered a third room that I had never seen before, a kind of VIP lounge space in the shape of a narrow U in the very back of the bar. There was the standard leatherette banquette seating with a table in the center of the U, but the walls were covered with very narrow mirrored stripes. Seven clear lightbulbs with orange filaments hung from the ceiling, and their reflection in the mirrors created the effect of being in the middle of a shower of sparks, or, if you kinda squinted (or, in my case, took off your glasses), it was like looking out into a cityscape at night. A truly awesome optical effect achieved very simply. Too bad the room was empty, though we did find it a good place for a quick toke.

When we did make it out into the main room, just before we left, we found that it had been considerably reconstructed since the Taco Portal days. The DJ pulpit now towered up in the middle of the dancefloor, and the illumination was provided by red, circular lighting fixtures. Very ultra lounge. A small number of people had showed up by this point, but the party energy had yet to manifest and I was ready for the bed.

This space has a lot of potential, and from the upcoming line-ups on the print flyer it looks like this might be a great night during the week to check out some new tech house sounds. But if you're going to do a middle of the week party you can't be slack in how you set things up and make them run, because us working stiffs aren't going to be patient to wait for things to get up to steam. I'll definitely check it out again.

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