Elbo Room offers one of the city's better venues to see live music and consistently books bands that don't disappoint. The interior isn't much; the upstairs is a typical neighborhood bar. But downstairs, which feels like someone's basement party, is where the magic happens.
Musical acts range in style from alternative rock to reggae to funk, post-punk and ska; celebrated past performers include Turin Brakes, Charlie Hunter Trio, Joss Stone and Jay Bennett of Wilco. But whatever band is playing, there's usually a crowd of enthusiasts working up a sweat. If the band is working up a sweat, chances are you'll see it: The stage is more of a large-scale platform. Groupies/stalkers will delight at the touchability of the oh-so-close performers. A grotto-like perimeter provides a more at-a-distance voyeurism for mellow patrons.
Except for the energy right in front of the stage, the crowd at the Elbo Room draws is laid-back and welcoming. The dark and cavernous interior tends to bring people together, as do sheer numbers on a busy night. They don't call it the Elbo Room for no reason; the place fills up on weekends. And if moshing in front of the band isn't for you, striking up conversation with a stranger at the upstairs bar isn't unusual. You'll have spare cash to buy him a drink, too, as tickets run a modest $5-$8. (Nicole Grasse)