Saturday, November 18, 2006

Eddies RIP

Standing in the rain and biting cold looking at the burnt shell of my childhood home, well, not actually the house I lived in as a child, but the place I considered home for the arse end of my teenage years. Edwards no8 burnt down last Saturday night and a week later you can still smell the soot. "Eddies" as it was affectionately known, was the only metal/alternative club left in Birmingham and I had been going since I was 16 (licensing laws be damned) and home to many firsts, my first fight, my first mushroom trip, and the first time I snorted vodka all happened under that roof, and now the roof isn't there, just charred black struts that look like the ribcage of a whale skeleton.

Next to Eddies sits The Gallows, relatively new sister pub to Eddies and also damaged in the fire. Identical in everyway to Edwards except the opening hours, same decor, same DJs playing the same limited rock palette, same customers, a big painted sign next to the door reads "Inferno thrash night" and I cant help but chuckle at the clumsy irony.

A short walk across town and I'm now sitting in Costermongers- the pub that's underneath Priory Square, nursing a diminishing hangover and my second beer, if you have never been here Costers is now one of the last "alternative" bars in Birmingham and by "alternative" I mean an alternative to the other bars in Birmingham where the music is bland and inaudible and the patrons wear something other than black, a place with, you know, character. Costers is an underground bar in the musical sense and also the very physical sense, it's a windowless barhole painted black. It calls itself "Birmingham's original rock pub" I don't know how true that is but it's certainly one of the last.

Ten years ago there were six or so places like this, an angry young man could go to be young and angry, but now there are only two and with the burning down of Eddies nightclub, before long there won't be any, they'll be replaced by minimal gastro pubs, bland artifice not designed to appeal just designed not to repel. Already I can feel this place dying, all the character being squeezed out of the place, It's even been given a non-smokers area! I'm not entirely sure that's supposed to work in what is, basically, a concrete bunker.

Although saddened I'm not entirely surprised by the decline of this sort of bar, it's partly due to the tightening of the drink laws. I started coming here (or places just like it) when I was an earnest sixteen year old and even then I was a late starter. Nailing your colour's to the mast and flying your freak flag is a young person's game, so pubs based around one type of music or attitude will obviously be more popular with the young and sincere.

Mostly Rock pits like Costers are doomed because the narrow market. The weird and wired make it very clear that if you don't belong, you're not welcome. This makes for a very loyal clientele, but also a very restricted one and in a culture of increased homogenisation, where kids don't claim allegiance to any particular style or attitude because there exposed to a bland mixture of them all, one that won't be replaced.
So come to Costers while you still can, you probley wont like the music, the gents toilets don't have doors, the seats aren't comfortable and unless your body has been modified in a interesting way, you wont be welcomed. But at least it won't be decorated like every bloody Wetherspoons you've ever been to.


Blogger Tumuli ranted..

How I hate it when the hang-out spot closes shop. That happened entirely too often at my university. Now, however, people just care about place to drink and forget the banality of existence -- not necessarily an atmosphere.

At any rate, hopefully you can find a replacement, or at least a place that conjures images of your angry youth. ;)

4:21 AM  
Blogger Shroom-Monkey ranted..

ohh man, I felt that way about Gazarris and The Cathouse in LA- they were home away from home, ya know.... ohh well, you are getting old now, time to get fat, get a pretty wife have her pop out some cute babies... and once in while talk about the good old days....

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous ranted..

8:58 PM  

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