In light of the recent turmoil the Bug Jar finds itself in, I thought it might be an appropriate time for an appreciation. This will not deal with or pass judgement on the current events associated with it’s situation, and only stands to document my experiences and admiration for the venue.
The Bug Jar’s tagline is “Your bar on earth.” It might seem a little bit of a pompous statement, especially for a tiny dive on a dingy corner in the, some might say, dwindling city of Rochester. But to the people that go there, it is theirs. And it is, of course, on earth. The Bug Jar is for whoever goes there.
I’ll never forget the first time I went to the Bug Jar. Near the turn of the Century (it feels pretty cool to write that), I drove in from Syracuse to catch a band called Drums and Tuba. It was before the days of GPS so I did a few circles before finding my way. It was late, I was flying solo, and it didn’t appear to be the best of neighborhoods. But when I finally walked in the door, the Bug Jar was an oasis of awesomeness. A ceiling fan with huge insect sculptures flying in circles above the bar? Cool! Weird, but cool. An entire 60s studio apartment hanging upside down from the ceiling? Really freaking weird, but really freaking cool, especially once I realized the lamps in the apartment actually worked. A rock club that serves its beer in actual pint glasses? Also really freaking cool. The band played an awesome set, and I was elated to see them. But I was equally “buzzed” about the unique new venue I had found.
Drums and Tuba // Eli [mp3] from Vinyl Killer
But the Bug Jar is much more than just it’s structure. It is a nurturing institution to both nationally touring acts and – more importantly – to local musicians. It is amazing to me that a venue in a city the size of Rochester has no problem filling its stage with quality music every night of every week. It speaks volumes that they are able to bring back the same bands again and again. Bands from around the country, from around the world even, come to town for one night and most of what they know of Rochester is contained within the tiny confines of the Bug Jar and the people who inhabit it on that given evening. I cannot count the number of times these bands have exclaimed, “This is our first time to Rochester, we love it here!” or some such. And true to their word, if they haven’t outgrown it, they’ll be back soon enough. I once saw a band from LA play a set for less than 50 people, and they came back twice more in less than a year to ever increasing crowds.
The Bug Jar is also a modern day music curator. The shows are booked carefully and with thought, so that you can head down on a random night not knowing any of the bands playing, and be assured you will be introduced to some worthwhile tunes. The place has introduced me to as much great music as anyone (except Tympanogram of course!). Known most for its loud rock shows, there is no genre left unheard on its stage. Folk, Jazz, Punk, Metal, Hip Hop, R&B, Electronic. All are welcome at the Bug Jar.
And with that I raise a nice cold pint of Whore-net Ale. Here’s to you Bug Jar! A one-of-a-kind, a neighborhood bar, a music venue, and an ambassador for the city of Rochester.