Cause Spirits & Soundbar 5th Anniversary and Closing Party, 7/12/14
Cause's 5th Anniversary and Closing Party
Photo by Shon Troth
With Enemy Planes, Gay Witch Abortion, Mississippi North, Buildings, Ex Nuns, and Strange
Cause Spirits & Soundbar, Minneapolis
Saturday, July 12, 2014
For the past five years Cause Spirits & Soundbar has been an oasis on the corner of Lyndale and Lake. Rickety lounge chairs dotted the sidewalk outside around tables piled high with PBR cans. In the mornings, the tantalizing scent of breakfast wafted in past trusty bartenders serving up the day's hair of the dog. By evening, strains of your favorite local band's songs struggled to be heard over the buzz of an enthusiastic gathering of friends and strangers alike, crowding the door guy and filling the air with cigarette smoke and laughter. Drunken merriment abounded. For the past five years, many of us Uptowners lived by one simple motto: All roads lead to Cause.
The fifth anniversary celebration of this beloved bar/restaurant/venue, though, wound up being its funeral. After five years of serving as a rite of passage for so many performers, and a second home for some, Cause has officially closed its doors to the public as (gasp!) a sports bar prepares to move into its beloved tomb. Despite our shock and anguish, we did our best to party hard this past Saturday as the last five bands to ever play Cause hit the stage.
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Photo by Shon Troth
Strange opened the evening with a blistering set of rock songs, revving up the already spirited crowd. Post-punk band Ex Nuns followed, keeping the energy high. Drinks were being served up in plastic cups. Though things were certainly festive, it was impossible to ignore the undercurrent of sadness coursing through the room. Regulars greeted one another with long looks of knowing. Conversations tended to veer toward nostalgia. Perhaps we were only just then beginning to realize how lucky we were to have been granted such a place in the midst of ever-multiplying condos, chain retailers, and various cookie-cutter bars and restaurants that have sprouted up relentlessly ever since the era of the Uptown Bar.
If Buildings were feeling angry about the situation, they did their best to channel that volatility into their performance. Singer Brian Lake snarled his way through songs from their recently released EP, It Doesn't Matter, as a mosh pit began to form. Buildings' live sets tend to be especially cathartic, as they've said they find themselves lost within the execution of the songs, and oftentimes exhausted afterwards by the furious release of energy and sound. With their current formation, it appears that Buildings have hit a certain stride. Their older material still pleases but the newer work finds success in simplicity, cutting straight to the bone by removing some of the musical trimmings.
Photo by Garrison Grouse
Next up was Mississippi North, their vocalist wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words, "Fuck sports bars." They brought a cool mixtures of blues-inspired rock and psychedelia, primarily in the form of covers -- or were they all covers? Regardless, their set was enticing, and an intriguing departure from the previous mood set by the other openers. "This guy sounds like Robert Plant!" remarked a woman in the audience as they tore through a rendition of "Immigrant Song." Her friend nodded in agreement exclaiming, "He's really good! Wow!"
His vocals did seem to be from a different era entirely. Instead of smoking a joint, though, he puffed wholeheartedly on a vape, blowing thick plumes of smoke above the stage. "Fuck sports bars," he said, pointing down to his T-shirt. "You want a different culture? You gotta go out and build it!" All around the room, heads nodded in agreement. It was kind of weird, actually. Were we actually a bunch of modern-day hippies feeling downtrodden by "the man" AKA the impending sports bar? This guy wanted us to grab our vapes and mobilize.
Somewhere during this call to action, the venue had hit capacity. Revelers waxed poetic remembrances of their most memorable Cause moments, such as, "Thanks for the DWI."
Better Bones frontman Max Gremillion struggled to find words aptly capturing what this place had meant to him. "It's a second home," he said after a long pause. "It's always been the best type of shit show you could ever ask for. It's family." Outside in the smoking area, adorned in his signature bath robe, rap ambassador and staunch Cause regular Phillip Morris was feeling equally sentimental. "Forgive me," he pleaded, "but I will be crying and twerking simultaneously tonight." When asked where to turn next, Morris was ready with some sagely advice. "There's going to be some CC Club action for sure, and Muddy's," he said. He recommended continued support for the employees of Cause as they move on to their next places of employment. "Follow the bartenders. Follow the servers."
"There goes the neighborhood," commented Garrison Grouse, Black Diet's bassist and co-founder of Nightchain, Cause's weekly Monday night dance party. While Grouse hopes to find a willing venue so that Nightchain can continue, he is sorely disappointed by the prospect of losing its original home. "I guess it was just a lost cause," he quipped. Friend Sam Spadino agreed. "Nice try hipsters, we lost the war," he said as he locked his bike up next to Grouse's. "The battle for Uptown is over."
Cause regular Eric Basta summed it up cynically, saying, "Camaraderie crushed by condos." His friend Ari Michelle stood nearby, crushed. "I can't even..." she uttered.