Club Cafe

I started the idea of doing venue revues over at the blog I share with Matt. We have ideas for that blog, but for now, this is my expanded haven for musical posts and more. This is my attempt to continue the venue reviews over here. I remember when I first started going to shows in Pittsburgh. I thought it was useful if I could figure out if there were food options or if a venue was BYOB or booze-free. And as I age and having gone through some medical shit it’s nice to know when seating is an option as well.

Relevant Facts

  • Ages: 21+
  • Booze: Yes, full bar
  • Cost: $8-$25
  • Cash/Credit? Credit ok
  • Seating? Varies. There are always ~8 to 10 bar stools plus sometimes tables

The Space Itself – A

I’ve been to many shows at Club Cafe over the years. I have mixed feelings on the set up from show to show, but I really appreciate the intimate setting and the generally solid acoustics. It’s a small general space without easy access to a “back stage” (stage and back area are on opposite sides of the main bar room) so everyone including band members largely mixes to some extent. This helps add to the intimate ambiance of Club Cafe.

Some shows are set up with a lot of sit down tables. This is perfect for a low key show but can stifle high energy shows. The tables are largely gone for high energy shows though so they seem to have worked that out. I can’t be sure if it’s always been that way or if they are just hosting more and more high energy shows or what. I just have a recollection of early shows (for me) there feeling awkward with too many sit down tables that left standees in an awkward row along the walking space and behind the tables. I haven’t experienced that in some time – though part of that might be my willingness to sit as I age and post-surgery last year.

Space Amenities – A

Club Cafe serves booze and food during shows. As noted, many shows have limited seating which limits the value of this option during those shows, but it certainly has proved useful at times. And they have options that my vegan self can eat which is greatly appreciated. They went through a period without  a kitchen and they allowed a friend and I to fetch food from Kassabs at a show at that time. In fact, the staff there is always super courteous which, in and of itself, is an amenity.

There are no super cool space extras beyond that but the bathrooms are reasonably clean for a bar which is definitely a nice feature. My sources tell me that the ladies room is adequate (“I mean it’s no Warhol Museum but it certainly wasn’t the Brillo box”). There is only one stall in the men’s room and like at most shows, it gets used as a urinal after a bit which tends to result in less than ideal conditions for an emergency. But, it’s a feasible option all the same.

It’s hard to argue with a show bar that has serves food, has a full bar, and has a reasonably clean bathroom.

Conclusion – A

Overall, shows at Club Cafe are a good experience. They are affordable, there is good sound, the setting is intimate, and there is a full bar with quality draft beers and bottles. The shift between low and high seating for shows with different target audiences is a nice touch. And damn, i’ve seen some great shows here from Sebadoh to Frontier Ruckus to Erin McKeown’s Anti-Holiday spectacular. So they do a great job booking shows as well. Club Cafe is a worthwhile experience.

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