Hippo Manchester
December 29, 2005

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Nite: Looking back at 2005

The music and the nightlife, through all its ups and downs

By Richie Victorino  rvictorino@hippopress.com

Our little neck of the woods had one hell of a roller coaster ride in 2005. There was the good, the bad, the ugly ... the sad and the beautiful.

Here’s a look back.

The good

Many new bars and hangouts set up shop in 2005. Obviously they knew, as we all know, the 603 is a cool place to be.

The Shaskeen: Manchester’s newest Irish bar came to Elm Street this fall. Now you can find a group of barflies smoking outside of the pub on any given evening, thanks to the Shaskeen’s smoke-free policy (which, thus far, hasn’t seemed to hurt business).

Gate City Pub: Small sports bar and grill on Canal Street, in Nashua, boasting the best steak tips around.

The Odyssey: Mediterranean eats coupled with an upscale nightclub — Pearl Street, Nashua.

WBs: At first called Whiskey Blue, now WBs, this upscale club took over where Cahoots once stood on Granite Street.

Johnny Bad’s: A small bar and restaurant right across from the Verizon Wireless Arena, Elm St., Manchester. It’s a nice pit stop before and after arena events like Monarchs games.

Spyder Room: The Spyder Room is the new face in town, located where the Hogs Trough Saloon used to be on Lincoln Street, Manchester.

Cinco’s: At the southern end of downtown Nashua, you’ll find Cinco’s, a nightclub once called Dania’s. Just this month a new owner, Willie Alvarado, took over at Cinco’s.

Peddler’s Daughter: Downtown Nashua was filled with anticipation in the weeks before the Irish bar, Peddler’s Daughter opened up on Main Street. Since opening they’ve added live music to their repertoire.

Club Electra: OK, this one is a bit of a stretch. It’s unlikely Electra will open up, on the north end of Elm Street, before 2006. But it just goes to show that the Queen City likes to dance.

The Job Site:  A bar built inside a sub shop (Sub Contractor’) on the West  Side (Dubuque Street) of Manchester.

Derryfield Restaurant: The east side bar and restaurant (Mammoth Road) in Manchester underwent major structure changes, though it still offers good music and food on a regular basis.

File this under “not good, but maybe not so bad in the end”: The Bomb Shelter closed its doors at the end of November. But owner Serge Evangelista vows to come back with a new Bomb Shelter, in a new, undisclosed location, sometime soon.

The bad

With all the number of new nightlife hangouts popping up, there’s bound to be some “incidents” to say the least, and 2005 certainly had those.

It all started in late spring, when Mayor Bob Baines went on a police ride-along one evening. He witnessed a “late-night altercation,” as he said, outside of Omega, where someone broke a baseball bat by smashing it on someone else’s head. Baines started a crusade to clean up the city’s nightlife.

After that, the Union Leader went to town on nightlife, writing 12 stories between May 31 and July 31, citing the horrific state of Manchester nightlife.

Bars like the Black Brimmer and the Wild Rover Pub were shut down for at least one day because of stiffer Liquor Commission enforcement of laws these bars allegedly violated (such as serving an already-intoxicated customer). Normally, first-offense violations would carry a $250 fine. But new laws made it legal to suspend a bar’s liquor license for at least one day.

In August, the Hippo went out to 12 different bars to see if the Manchester nightlife was as unruly as others portrayed it. Despite some uncomfortable moments (like placing a 20-something boy from Tennessee in a bar like Flo’s) there were no obvious violations, no fights, stabbings or over-the-top rowdiness was viewed.

Is it as bad as it seems?

October was not a good month to be in the club business. Late night on Oct. 2 there was a triple stabbing in the vicinity of Omega. Less than a week later, on Oct. 8, a man was shot in the face outside of Club Envy. It seemed possible that Baines was right. But the city residents didn’t agree.

The quality of Manchester’s nightlife ended up playing a sizable role in this year’s mayoral election. Many bars and clubs hung posters supporting Baines’ opponent, Frank Guitar, for mayor. In the end, Guinta won and Baines was out. 

The Ugly

The city of Lowell shut down any hope of the New England Punk, Goth and Metal Festival taking place at LeLacheur Park this past October. Lowell City Manager John Cox had this to say about any prospect of that type of concert at the park.

“I can’t put my finger on it. It’s just not what I want ... at least for the first concert. I’m interested in the image of the city,” he said. The festival was held at Club 125 in Haverhill, Mass., on Saturday, Oct. 1 and at the Worcester Palladium, in Worcester, Mass., on Sunday, Oct. 2.

You have to give the Shaskeen credit for knowing how to party. For their grand opening on Nov. 27, Grammy-winning Irish group The Chieftans, as well as the Lord of the Dance, Michael Flatley, entertained a big crowd. But many people, left out in the cold, got mighty angry that they never got to actually see Flatley dance. Instead, the crowd outside was entertained by the vocal wonders of Mayor Bob Baines.

Top five shows of 2005

#5: John Eddy, Veterans Park. Aug. 4.

The outdoors, a grassy knoll, good weather and good music for free made this one memorable night in the summer of 2005.

#4: The Mammals, Tupelo Music Hall. June 24.

These acoustic traditionalists fit in well with the ambience of Tupelo Music Hall. Look out for their newest album, Departure, due out in February (with a national tour to follow soon after).

#3: Against Me! (with guests), Bomb Shelter. Sept. 23.

For $10, New Hampshire’s punks, goths and metalheads got their money’s worth when Against Me!, The Epoxies, Smoke or Fire and The Soviettes came to the Bomb Shelter as part of the Fat Tour.

#2: The Charms, Hogs Trough Saloon. June 17.

Ellie Vee is the perfect front woman for any edgy rock band. Her stage presence, along with The Charms’ good music, made them a hit in this city this year, and particularly at Hogs Trough.

#1: Green Day, Verizon Wireless Arena. April 29.

The moment Green Day stepped on the stage, you knew the night was going to rock. With big rock-star like theatrics and pyrotechnics Green Day did not disappoint. Especially when they invited three young fans up on stage to play along with them.