If you were counting all the positives at last night's inaugural night of music at the Amsterdam Bar & Hall in downtown St. Paul -- the kickoff to its so-called "preview weekend" -- chances are you probably lost count after the second Belgian beer. Unless you wrote some of them down in your handy reporter's notepad, of course.
Among the many signs that this thing is for real and has a good chance of succeeding in the ever-challenged capital city nightlife scene:
1) The crowd outside this new 331 Club offshoot was bulging from the patio onto the sidewalk when I walked up. 2) The crowd inside was split up the same way it used to separate at the 501 Club, with half the attendees on the far end away from the stage hanging out at tables chatting it up, and the other half up close to the stage rocking out; this, despite the fact that the partition wall has yet to be built. Folks already understand the concept, in other words: half a neighborhood-bar hangout, half a rock club.
3) Both the Red Pens and BNLX -- noisy duos that can be sonically challenged in any room -- sounded pretty great on the smaller of the bar's two stages, even though they faced a wall of windows, and some of the sound improvements there have yet to be made. 4) Every musician on hand (and there were many) were marveling about the size and setup of the bigger stage, a 16-by-30-foot behemoth that also has a big load-in ramp, subwoofers under the stage and nice wood flooring on top. 5) Lots of folks were also asking about Eclipse Records, which is right next door but isn't yet up and running. When it does, it should have quite an attentive client base already on hand.
Oh, and: 6) St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, celebrating his 50th birthday, stayed there till midnight. Not only did this signal his approval of the place, it was also a good sign that St. Paul's mayor still has the stamina to party. So he'll want to keep the Amsterdam around -- along with the rest of us there on Thursday.
The Goondas and Ghostmouth take over the bar tonight. Somebody should advise the Goon squad they can't break anything at least until after the grand-opening weekend, which is Sept. 23-25 with bands including Communist Daughter (EP release party), Twilight Hours, Zoo Animal and lots more. The first show on the big stage will be next Friday, Sept. 9, a fundraiser for city council member Melvin Carter III featuring his old St. Paul Central High buddies Heiruspecs.
For more information on Amsterdam Bar & Hall, the venue's Facebook page is so far the best place to get information.