Ever since Speak In Tongues
closed its doors in 2002, Cleveland's west side has suffered a major drought of quality indie-rock clubs. For nearly eight years, the Ohio City haunt was one of the most important underground venues in the nation, with bands from Modest Mouse to the Brian Jonestown Massacre gracing its stage long before their names became mainstays in Spin and Rolling Stone.
Since then, west side rock fans have been forced to make the grueling trek -- at least it seems grueling with a half-dozen PBRs in your system – to the Beachland Ballroom and the Grog Shop to get their musical fix.
But that should change in late February, when Mario Nemr opens up The Matinee Cleveland at 2527 West 25th Street
, between the West Side Market and Clark Avenue. ...
While Nemr’s name might be unfamiliar to most Clevelanders, he’s been dutifully supplying Akron with fine jams and tasty spirits for years. He’s the owner of Akron’s famously sweaty nightclub, Thursdays. And recently, he opened up The Matinee
in Akron’s Highland Square – a cozy haunt with the comforts of an old-man bar and the jukebox of a true music fanatic.
Since the closing of The Lime Spider last fall
, The Matinee has become the new hub for Akron’s burgeoning music scene. Its endearingly small stage has hosted groups from Pat Sweany to Houseguest. And when bands aren’t pumping out the jams, an eclectic array of DJs are always on hand with superb offerings, from obscure Northern Soul to Steely Dan. “The Akron Matinee has been pumping good,” Nemr says. “It’s been doing well. Finally, after 15 years, the crowd is right, the people are into it, and it works out for everybody.”
Nemr now hopes to bring that vibe to Cleveland’s near west side: “The real goal is to bridge the alternative music scene between Akron and Cleveland.”
For now, Nemr in the early stages of getting his new club together. He bought the bar from the owners of the super chic Velvet Tango Room
, who recently renovated the art-deco building with hopes of bringing it back to life after three decades sitting vacant. **(Corrected below)**
. But the owners finally gave up and put it up for sale. Nemr jumped on it. “They put a lot of heart and soul into it,” Nemr says. “We’re just gonna add our own flare to it, bring in a younger crowd, and make it less expensive.”
Though Nemr says its too early to announce a lineup of acts, he already has an airstrip of eager bands and DJs eagerly awaiting the club’s opening, from Kent’s Beaten Awake to DJ Frank Spicer, who spins everything from the latest electro to classic Brit Pop.
“I can't believe no one else saw this place," Nemr says, "and thought to do the same thing,” – Denise Grollmus
Correction: A former Tango room employee, not the bar's owners, sold the bar to Nemr. We totally blew that one.