Back and gone again

Black Label reinstitutes E.R.’s local-band nights … briefly

Think performs at the Black Label Bar (formally the Emergency Room Lounge) last Saturday.
Photo: Richard Brian

The X-rays of grotesque human mishaps are gone. So is the cigarette-burned carpet. But at the former Emergency Room Lounge last Saturday night, local music returned to its newly redecorated home … at least for a minute.

The Black Label Bar and Lounge at Spring Mountain and Decatur is housed in what used to be a locals’ favorite to see bands within the scene. The electric pink mural featuring an homage to Hendrix, Lennon and Rollins is still there, but that’s about all that’s left of the former E.R., as far as aesthetics are concerned.


“We tried to make it a little bit more upscale,” manager Boris Petkov says. The space is indeed brighter and cleaner. They’ve upgraded the menu and added the unique twist of fresh-squeezed orange juice as a mixer (note the giant juicer in the corner). Glass now separates the bar and restaurant areas, creating smoking and nonsmoking sections, though performances can be seen and heard throughout the venue via an upgraded sound system—provided there is an act onstage, that is.

Officially open for about three weeks, Black Label had been scheduling Saturday night local-rock bills, just like in the good ol’ days before the E.R. closed about a year ago. On September 27, for example, Think, Cherry Hill and Arizona’s The Asphalt performed. But sometime between The Asphalt leaving the stage and Sunday morning’s hangover, Black Label did a complete 180 and decided to pull the plug on booking similar musical acts.

Petkov cites budget issues and a decline in the crowd from the previous week as causes for suspending the local-music showcase. “This is directly in response to the economic situation,” Petkov says. Anyone who’s followed the local scene knows, however, that every venue has its good and bad nights. Black Label apparently isn’t willing to wait it out, so the local showcase will be replaced with what Petkov describes as “blues-style rock,” beginning Saturday, October 4, in an attempt to attract an older crowd. What a difference a day makes.

While Petkov doesn’t rule out bringing the local scene back in the future, it’s unlikely at present. Tuesdays are now slated to become Black Label’s Latin night, Thursdays will offer house music with DJ Miss Joy, and Fridays will have DJ Hanger spinning reggae. Looks like local bands are on the lookout for new digs once more.

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