Food & Drink

Bar Exam

The New Bar Behind Neumo's

The most salient features of Moe Bar's grand-opening party May 30: $2 drinks and numerous fans—not fans as in fanatics, but fans of the moving-around-of-air variety. Moe Bar, prior to its recent revamp, was called the Bad Juju Lounge (which itself used to be an entirely different bar under the same name a few blocks away); prior to that, it was just the bar with no particular name in the back at Neumo's (the music venue formerly known by the terrible name ARO.space; and, in the mid-'90s, the possibly worse name Moe's Mo' Rockin' Cafe; and, apparently, at one point, for a brief time, quietly, Noiselab).

Now a wall separates Moe Bar from Neumo's, giving the high-ceilinged, long room its own microclimate, which over the course of a warm spring day evidently heats right up. In the early evening at the grand opening, at least five different fans were being positioned and repositioned by, at one point, three different people. One of the fan-movers-around remarked in passing that he'd spent $400 on fans that day. The most impressive fans looked rented, though: a couple of RIDGID® three-speed Air Movers, handsome orange half-horsepower units.

As one grand-opening celebrant remarked, it was not the place to be for keeping your hair in order, but the near gale-force breeze in the darkened room accompanied by the $2 drinks had an overall allure. The pendant lamps in a line above the bar seemed to be especially enjoying themselves, gyrating gently due to the wind blowing up their dark reddish shades, like ladies happy to be wearing skirts.

The beer-bottle light fixtures and the vaguely New Orleans punk/goth feel of the Bad Juju stint are gone. The new Moe Bar aesthetic is vaguely '70s, with wallpaper of a silvery-mirrored-leaves pattern ("My grandparents have that in their bathroom!" someone was heard to say); several big booths and a long banquette have cushiony oval bubbles of dark vinyl upholstery all along their backs. (Fitting your spine between two of the bubbles is notably comfortable.) The extra-thick wood of the cocktail tables and the bar top looks darkly fancy, with a variegated cherry/mahogany stain; rumor has it they're made from glue-laminate beams. (These are, according to the American Institute of Timber Construction, "engineered, stress-rated products of a timber laminating plant, comprised of assemblies of specially selected and prepared wood laminations securely bonded together with adhesives," or wood made of other wood that's all glued together.) Borne on the wind at Moe Bar on opening night, besides a cocktail napkin doing a little dance hovering above the floor near the bar, was the smell of newness—maybe the glue, maybe the stain, maybe the vinyl upholstery.

Also of note: framed posters from bygone shows at Moe's (Radiohead, Pavement, etc.) and, in the snacking department, the availability of delicious fries from nearby Frites.

Moe Bar, 925 E Pike St, 709-9467

bethany@thestranger.com

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