Before being demolished earlier this year, Club 770's cafeteria-by-day, venue-by-night role gave the place a bit of a high school vibe. It was a great way to channel your pre-college punk or metalhead persona - or simply check out bands with a more experimental approach to their craft, from Of Montreal and the Dismemberment Plan to Melt Banana and Man Man.
Even before the wrecking ball made smithereens out of the space, Wisconsin Union Directorate was scouting alternative venues for harder-edged performers, says Patrick Tilley, a 2008-09 music committee member and part of the planning group for the new Union South.
While some of these acts have been reassigned to the Memorial Union, WUD's been trying out non-campus spaces as well, including the Majestic Theatre for a Mason Jennings concert, the Project Lodge for a Wavves performance and the Electric Earth Café's West Washington Avenue location for several metal shows.
However, at least a few WUD folks want to step up efforts to provide programming for students who live near the southern edge of campus. Though a new Union South - including a venue sporting a North Woods-cabin feel - is slated to open in 2011, WUD's been partnering with other potential venues in the neighborhood, such as Indie Coffee, which holds nearly 70 people.
"We've had some great shows here so far: Eef Barzelay and Jason Mraz, to name a few," says Indie Coffee owner J.J. Kilmer. "And we're hoping to have a lot more."
While Tilley has been pleased with Indie Coffee's possibilities as a venue, he says it's better suited for folk musicians and minimalist artists.
What's the right environment for punk and metal, then? Tilley says it's not either of the main stages at the Memorial Union.
"It doesn't work for the Rathskeller or the Terrace because you have that built-in crowd that just wants to relax and have a beer. They'll be driven away by metal and punk," he argues.
Punk and metal fans may beg to differ, and it could be amusing to observe unsuspecting tourists' reactions to a headbangers' ball. But his assumption that the university bigwigs won't go for it is probably correct.
What's the solution? So far, the Annex hasn't been an option, Tilley says, and the ownership of the Project Lodge is in flux.
Maybe it's time to get creative with the definition of "venue." Over on Atwood Avenue, metal, hardcore and punk shows pack nontraditional venues like Revolution Cycles and Glass Nickel Pizza regularly. Even Thorp's Haircut & Color has been hosting shows lately. Perhaps a UW gym, library or lecture hall could be next.