Friday, February 6, 2009

Bar Review: The Bar on Church

Those of you who've been reading this blog for a while probably already know what my opinion of The Transfer was, but for those don't, I regarded it as very possibly one of the worst places to hear DJ music in the entire city. It was laid out poorly, with half the patrons huddled over a bar on one side, and the other half trying to find some flow between the pool table, bench seating, and standing tables on the other. The sound was horrible, and way too loud to boot, and there was no place to just hang out and have a drink and a conversation. I stopped going to events there because, if they were good and crowded, you spent the whole night with a drink in your hand, constantly moving around to find a resting place, and if the night didn't go off, it felt like the shitty little dive that it was.

The Bar on Church, Greg Bronstein's replacement for The Bar on Castro, is a one hundred percent improvement over The Transfer, with great red lighting (very reminiscent of BOC), comfy padded banquette seating (ditto), and a layout of the bar along the long back wall instead of off to one side. The space feels balanced, comfortable and chic.

However, in continuing with the traditions of the Bar on Castro, the music is wholely mediocre. The boyfriend and I stopped in last Friday around nine as we were headed down to Pulse at Paradise Lounge, and after hearing the TingTings' "Great DJ (Calvin Harris Mix)" we thought, oh yeah, this could be good, only to bear witness to the playing of two Prince tracks within the span of 10 minutes, an electro mix of a Coldplay track, and a remix of "Circus" by Brittney Spears.

For a typical Castro bar, this is the kind of thing I'd expect, and at least there was a little innovation in the tracks we heard, but adhering to the usual formulas of lowest-common denominator dance music, a la 92.7, is not going to work for a bar that's off the beaten path. In the Bar on Castro you could get away with this sort of thing (and worse) because people weren't coming there for the music, they were coming there because of the location. With The Bar on Church, though, it's a destination, a place you have to go to on purpose, and you need something to draw people in there that's not just a replication of what they can more conveniently obtain at (shudder) Qbar, Badlands, The Cafe, or even Jet. The Transfer, though it was a dumpy hole, at least held out the promise of presenting innovative club nights, from Frisco Disco to Bender, where you could hear good music and dance. If the Bar on Church is going to be anything more than an out-of-the-way version of a Castro experience, it needs to return to the kind of innovative programming that The Transfer was developing a reputation for.


Tom Geller said...

Hell, I'm just thrilled The Transfer's not there anymore: It was a nuisance, with drunk, obnoxious amateurs blocking the sidewalks and causing trouble. My boyfriend always had to give it a wide berth when his shift at EROS ended late at night.

The Bar On Castro, on the other hand, has been one of my favorite places. I hope they can keep a lid on the Church Street location as well as they have on Castro, and I bet they will. (Their door guy is great!)

Anonymous said...

Fortunately the Bar on Church ("The Botch")deserves to remain yet another mediocre Bronstein establishment. At least some of us can exercise our conscience and spend our money elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

This critic should have been there at 6pm Happy Hour when it was OFF THE HOOK! Or maybe I just like a little retro 80's electro clash mixed with the new "Neo-80's" music. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Hopefully this will keep the snotty A-list wannabes and the tired circuit queenery away... and it might stay cool.