Berbatti’s Pan – then and now

My first experience with Berbatti’s Pan was maybe five years ago. I won tickets to a show (featuring the now late Eliot Smith), and couldn’t find anyone to go with me. It creaped me out that I would have to go by myself – I had never been to a 21 and over venue. I chickened out at the door, and walked away – thus blowing my chance to see probably one great show.
A year or two later, my now favorite band, Over the Rhine, was playing at Berbatti’s. I decided to throw caution to the wind, and went for it. It was everything I expected it to be, smoky and dirty and full of drunkards. But the music made up for all of that.
Over the past four years, I’ve visited Berbatti’s for several different shows. Some of them rocked, some of them did not – but the venue itself has become my favorite in the city. It’s not as dirty as it first appeared, and they recently changed to non-smoking. As for the drunkenness, well, I’m less critical about it – and most people are there to hear the music anyways.
So, the other night I went to Berbatti’s for the first time in over a year. I had heard they remodeled, and I was kind of unsure of what to expect. Rumor was that it went all ages – would I still be able to get a rum and coke? Would they take away the artwork on the walls? And what about that huge and beautiful main bar of theirs? Would they go for something more conventional and modern? Well, Berbatti’s has not changed a bit. OK, ok, they have changed a few things. I think they knocked out a wall in back, and moved the sound board back. They replaced all the booths with movie theater style chairs – and they moved the second bar where the bands used to stash their equipment. They changed the schedule – concerts start earlier, and they have a DJ spin afterwards. I don’t like this edition – it rushes the musicians off the stage too quickly. All in all, no major changes. In fact, one change they should have made was to redo that floor. It’s all ripped up – showing it’s age with less than a passing grace. And the men’s room is still filthy.
But, what can you expect? It’s a bar (only some shows are all ages). People go there to listen to music, maybe dance, and maybe have a drink. As long as the music is good, I really don’t care.

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