It's punk night tonight at Inn-Termission Lounge on the South Side. Don't spread the word.
"The Inn-Termission is not very well-known, and the people who know it kind of keep it a secret," said Tony Rome, bartender and entertainment manager for the Carson Street venue. "They don't want all the young kids and fights and all the bad stuff you hear about the South Side. It's a low-key place, and word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising for us."
Well, hush my typing.
But to be clear, this doesn't mean you wouldn't be welcome. Inn-Termission has a long history as sort of a dive bar, but once you get in ...
"It's nice and cozy with a kind of medieval look to it," Mr. Rome said. "It's got the exposed beams and cathedral ceiling, and everything's wood so the sound's good."
Mr. Rome grew up on the South Side, only a couple of blocks from the lounge, which has been around for 40-some years. He was in the Army for 22 years, but he returned a few years ago to be near his aging parents.
The Inn-Termission has been a good fit for him, and he's been expanding the bar's music base.
"For years, we've had weekly rhythm and blues on Saturday afternoons with the Rhythm Aces," he said. "It gets the older crowd that doesn't want to be around the nightlife crowd and all those hassles.
"There's a lot of regulars that have been going there for 20, 30 years, but they're mostly daytime and afternoon people. Then the happy-hour crowd will rotate in. At night, we get a little bit older crowd than you might expect. We see a lot of bartenders and service workers
"We've been having punk shows, about four or five a month, for about two years. When I started working there, I had friends who had punk bands and I let them play there. And then it spread by word of mouth. Their friends came, then their friends came. We're getting a regular crowd.
"We started up a Facebook page, but the big thing was that we got a good reputation of treating the bands right. We'll cook for them and take care of them. I know a lot of people. Sometimes they stay at my house."
Tonight, for example, there are four punk bands in the lineup that starts at 9 p.m. or so. Two local groups -- Playoff Beard and The Lady & The Monsters -- and two touring acts -- Parasites and The Promdates -- that haven't played the Inn-Termission before.
"The Promdates are from Norway, so my cousin is going to cook them some Polish food," Mr. Rome said. "Kielbasa and sauerkraut. Kind of neat, just to give them a taste of our home and make them feel welcome."
It's a relationship system, he said, that the punk nation thrives on.
"When the Pittsburgh bands travel to California, they host them," he said. "So when they come here, the local bands host them."The punk bands are the nicest kids in the world. Honestly, people have the wrong concept. I tend bar, and I can tell you. I know they have very little money, but they're great tippers."
And that goes for the crowd that turns out to hear them, as well.
"It's a nice mix of young men and women," Mr. Rome said. "They're darker looking, but very nice people. The punks today are like the hippies, you know? Half of them are vegans and they ride around on bikes. Coming back from the Army, I didn't expect it. I didn't know what the hell they were. Punk/hipsters/hippies? It's real different from the punks in the '80s when it was rough and rugged. It's real cool."
And tonight's headliner?
"The Parasites, they're old-school they're from the '80s," Mr. Rome said. "They broke up and came back together. They're on Wikipedia, so that makes them big. To me. "Some of the newer punk I hear, it's the screamer punk, and I can't make out what they're saying. But this music is like The Ramones, where you can hear the lyrics. The newer punk is more a mix of metal and scream-o and punk."
Who knew that the genre could be so complex?
So you can drop by for $5 and experience the music in the back, where the band plays, or out at the bar where you can hear it, but not see the musicians. Which can be good because sometimes that ol' punk music can be kind of loud.
The Inn-Termission has other things going on, too. There's art displayed on the walls and various stands, which you can buy to support local artists. And Wednesday night there will be
"an underground hip-hop show."
"It's some local guys and they need a place to play," Mr. Rome said. "Some of the other venues are harder to play. They want some of the door and they can be kind of tough about what time the bands are on, what time they're off.
"We're easy and a good location. And like I said, we'll put them up, comp them some beers. And if I have a good night behind the bar and it's because of them, I'll give them part of my tip money."
And, of course, there's the kielbasa.
Get a preview of tonight's event!
If you have a suggestion for something to do some evening, let us know about it and we'll see if we can get some of our friends to join you. Contact Dan Majors at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1456.neigh_city - music
This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe: http://press.post-gazette.com/ First Published June 26, 2012 3:45 PM